California Environment today released On the Rise: Solar Thermal Power and the Fight Against Global Warming, a 43 page report that documents that California could generate as much as 877,200 megawatts (MW) of power from solar power plants. This is an inspiring report—good news—to offset some of the doom and gloom on global warming and point out one of the ways we will be able to deal with this important challenge.
The report also finds that America has the potential to meet all of its current electricity needs with large central concentrating solar power plants. These solar thermal power plants covering a 100 x 100-mile area in the Southwest, slightly more than what’s already been excavated for strip mining for coal across the country, could power the entire nation; while slashing global warming emissions. Because solar thermal energy storage allows electric generating capacity even when the sun is not shining, it can replace traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear power.
There is a 4 page executive summary which can be read in minutes and will give you most of the information that a general reader needs—and maybe entice you to read through more of this report which is filled with graphs, charts, and plenty of visually appealing references to information.
There is a section on global warming and the urgent need for renewable energy, for those who still need this information. Other chapters deal with the specifics of our country’s vast potential for concentrating solar power, how it is cost effective, can be deployed quickly, and information about the dramatic increase of installations, not only in the United States, but around the world.
The report concludes that with leadership at the state and federal level and the right policies, that, putting 80 GW, enough to power 25 million homes, of concentrating solar power in place by 2030 is within reach. This would have the potential to generate between 75,000 and 140,000 permanent jobs and cut global warming pollution from U.S. electric power plants by at least 6.6 percent by 2030.
Among the information you will learn:
• The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has identified the potential for more than 7,000 gigawatts (GW) of concentrating solar power generation on lands in the southwestern United States alone – more than six times current U.S. electricity consumption. Other areas of the United States, such as the mountain West, the Great Plains and Florida, can also generate significant power from the sun.
• Concentrating solar power development has accelerated dramatically since the beginning of 2007. More than 4,000 MW of solar thermal projects are in some phase of development nationwide and could be completed by 2012. However, solar energy tax credits that are helping make these projects cost-effective are set to expire at the end of the year, putting their future in doubt.
• Concentrating solar power plants are increasingly cost-competitive with other power generation technologies that do not produce carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. The cost of energy from solar thermal power plants is estimated to be competitive in cost with theoretical coal-fired power plants that capture and store their carbon dioxide emissions and with new nuclear power plants.