For the nerds out there who want to learn fun details of solar technology without taking engineering classes, we have a brief intro to solar parabolic troughs.
Utility-scale solar power requires setting up large arrays of solar panels on open land. Since large tracts of sunny, unused land are pretty hard to come by, large-scale solar developers occasionally face opposition from stakeholders who ascribe other value to land that could otherwise be developed for solar.
Behind their shared pride in the Golden State’s green incentives, two types of renewable energy proponents are fueling a debate over the direction California’s solar movement—and perhaps that of the nation—should take. Most of the high-profile solar development projects in California and elsewhere across the country are large-scale power plants, which sell electricity to utilities companies, which in turn funnel them into nearby homes. It’s the traditional model, but it’s not going uncontested. There are some solar power supporters, like engineer and energy consultant Bill Powers, who don’t think bigger is better.
The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has released its second annual report revealing which of the nation's utilities have added the most megawatts of solar capacity in the past year, and which utilities have the most cumulative megawatts of solar capacity. The results for 2008 shouldn't be too much of a surprise: the most solar integrated utility was Northern California's PG&E, its 85 MW of new solar capacity blowing the competition out of the water--those 85 MW were over 44% of the total field. Second was California Edison; third, SDG&E. In fact, California utilities occupy 8 of the top 10 slots, with one each for Hawaii and Nevada.