They are starting to build steam – oh what a mixed metaphor. But first I must say…
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World’s largest solar project prompts environmental debate
Posted: 12/22/2009 07:00:00 PM PST
Updated: 12/23/2009 07:24:46 AM P
Panoche Valley is known mostly for cattle and barbed wire, a treeless landscape in eastern San Benito County that turns green every spring but for much of the year looks like rural Nevada.
A posse of lawmen gunned down the famous Gold Rush bandit Joaquin Murrieta, an inspiration for the fictional character Zorro, near here in 1853. Nothing that exciting has happened since.
But now the remote valley 25 miles south of Hollister is finding itself at the center of a new showdown. A Silicon Valley company is proposing to build here what would be the world’s largest solar farm — 1.2 million solar panels spread across an area roughly the size of 3,500 football fields.
“This is renewable energy. It doesn’t
cause pollution, it doesn’t use coal or foreign oil, and it emits no greenhouse gases,” said Mike Peterson, CEO of Solargen Energy, the Cupertino company behind the $1.8 billion project.But critics — including some environmentalists — say green energy isn’t always green. In a refrain being heard increasingly across California, they contend the plan to cover this ranch land with a huge solar project would harm a unique landscape and its wildlife.
From the Bay Area to the Mojave Desert, green energy supporters are frustrated that a state that wants to lead the green revolution is facing roadblocks.
Peterson, a former vice president of Goldman Sachs, looked across the Panoche Valley last week and noted its attributes.
t sits 20 miles from the nearest town. It has 90 percent of the solar intensity of the Mojave Desert. Five willing sellers, mostly longtime ranching families, have signed options to sell his company 18,000 acres. And huge transmission lines run through the site, negating the need to build the kind of costly and controversial new power lines that have stalled similar projects.”From our standpoint, this is a perfect place,” he said. “If not here, where?”
The project would produce 420 megawatts of electricity, roughly the same as a medium-sized natural gas power plant, and enough to power 315,000 homes.
Wind made huge strides too.
Wind Energy Industry Highlights of 2009
23 de diciembre de 2009
Reflecting on a year that opened with high expectations for renewable energy from the new Obama Administration and was buffeted by economic storms, AWEA identified the wind industry’s top accomplishments in 2009.
“Wind power is a symbol of hope in our economy and supports thousands of jobs, but U.S. wind turbine manufacturing is lagging at the very time that the global clean energy race is heating up,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “One of the most urgent measures that our government can enact is a national Renewable Electricity Standard, which will unleash in the U.S. a wave of manufacturing investment that will otherwise go overseas. Many companies are eager to enter or ramp up their activities in this sector, as this year’s highlights show, but all need to see a long-term commitment with hard targets to renewable energy in order to be able to invest.”
The top accomplishments and developments include:
* American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 Funds a Lifeline: The ARRA included several provisions to spur development of wind and other renewable energy industries along with the Treasury Grant Program, which by year end had supplied over $1.5 billion in crucial capital. Since the early July announcement to implement the stimulus bill, at least 37 different wind projects, using large and small turbines, have been recipients of the grant program, powering the equivalent of 800,000 homes and providing a lifeline for the industry and sustaining wind power as a bright spot in the economy.
* … But Manufacturing Still Lags: Wind turbine manufacturing, however, has fallen behind 2008 levels in both announcements and in production activity. While this is bad news, the good news is that a solution is readily available: A strong national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) will create the market certainty that manufacturers need in order to invest, enabling the U.S. to become a wind turbine manufacturing powerhouse creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
* Strong Support for a National Renewable Electricity Standard (RES): An RES is included in the House version of climate legislation passed this spring and in pending Senate energy legislation. The wind industry, backed by popular support, continues to advocate for swift passage of a strong RES. A poll released by AWEA in May showed that over 75% of Americans, including 71% of independents and 62% of Republicans, support an RES requiring that 25% of the nation’s electricity be generated from renewable energy by 2025.
* COP15: AWEA sent a delegation to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen this month. AWEA’s participation at the conference is another indication of America’s reengagement in the international climate change process and of the key role that wind power plays today in the transition to a clean energy economy.
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