Sunday, January 12, 2014

Most solar power facilities fizzle, while rooftop solar warms-up

Los Angeles Times/local/Julie Cart, 1/11/14.  "After a building boom, solar energy's prospects now aren't as sunny.  The pace of solar development has slowed to a crawl, with a number of compani8es going out of business and major projects canceled."

sempra energy 1
Copper Mountain Solar 1, Boulder City, Nevada,
current the largest USA solar facility

....  "Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada. ....  Several factors are responsible, industry analysts say. The tight economy has made financing difficult to obtain, and the federal government has not said whether it will continue to offer tax credits of the size that brought a rush of interest in large-scale solar five years ago.

....  In California, utilities are saying they have enough projects under contract to meet the state's 33% standard for power from renewable sources, said Jerry R. Bloom, chairman of the energy practice at Winstong and Strawn, an L.A.- based firm that arranges financing for large renewable energy projects.  In contrast to large-scale projects, mid-sized and rooftop solar power is burgeoning and eventually could curtail demand for major solar plants, analysts say. With businesses and homeowners increasingly generating solar power on their premises, the so-called distributed generation model could usurp the need for larger players.  "It's pretty simple," said Bloom of Winstong and Strawn. "If they aren't getting power purchase agreements from utilities to build utility-scale solar, you are going to shift to distributed generation. It's going to be the next wave."  Read article.

Related - Eco Friend, "Largest solar project in US grabs attention from the green world." The Mountain Solar 1 has been located close to Boulder City, Nevada. This was deliberately done as the Boulder city forms a major part of the infrastructure of this project and features a massive renewable energy project, the Hoover Dam. All land used for the projects is private land, but that does mean the government extended no help, it has been upbeat about supporting as well as promoting the project. State owned California utility Pacific Gas & Electric signed an agreement to buy power from Copper Mountain 1 for 20 years.   

Eco Friend/Copper Mountain, "Construction on the 48MW power plant, christened the Copper Mountain Solar Facility, began in January 2010 at a 380-acre desert site and included the installation of 775,000 thin-film PV solar panels."  Treehugger/Michael Graham Richard, 12/14/10, "Biggest solar PV farm in US goes Online in Nevada."  "It's 10x smaller than the planned 500 MW solar PV farm that Sempra is trying to build near Phoenix, Arizona, but the 48 MW Copper Mountain Solar facility, located in Boulder City, Nevada, has the benefit of not being just a plan anymore.  Construction began in January 2010 at the 380-acre desert site and up to 350 workers installed nearly 775,000 thin-film PV solar panels. Now that it is finished, the Copper Mountain Solar farm is the largest photovoltaic installation in the U.S., according to Sempra."
Note: photograph courtesy of Simpra Energy on both related articles originated from Treehugger.

 Posted by Kathy Meeh

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