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Published on April 22nd, 2009 | by Jake Richardson

52

Entire State of Texas Could be Powered by Solar

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April 22nd, 2009 by
 
parabolic trough

A recent study released by Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, and several environmental organizations has concluded that solar technology alone could supply electricity for the whole state.

They cite a number of mind-blowing prospects from a variety of sources, all pointing to Texas as having the number one solar generating potential of the US states.

Concentrating solar power in Texas was found by one study to have a potential capacity of 148,000 megawatts. That is just one solar technology type. (The current total solar power capacity of the US is about 9,000 MW, – wind is 26,000 MW). Their study document also states, ” Photovoltaic plants covering 30 miles by 30 miles could power the entire state.” The types of technology referenced are photovoltaics, thin film photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, parabolic troughs, parabolic dishes/sterling engines, central receivers, linear fresnel reflectors, and solar water heaters.

Technologies

Thin film photovoltaics employ semiconductors several millionths of a meter thick and can be applied to many sun-facing surfaces such as building exteriors. Production costs and times are low. The number of thin film modules produced may exceed the crystalline variety within 1-2 years.

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Concentrating solar power uses mirrors to increase energy intensity to heat a liquid to 400 degrees C, which reportedly stores the energy more efficiently that conversion directly to electricity that is stored in batteries. The stored heated liquid can produce energy on cloudy days and at night.

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  • http://wwcpd.org Dakota

    Unfortunately the water doesn’t exist to make those dreams a reality. Heat concentrating solar power as is mentioned requires large amounts of water and unlike other power generating methods solar power plants in their search for the sun and vast open spaces do not have the luxury of placing themselves next to a sufficiently large body of water. As for the photovoltaic technology it admittedly needs a lot less water, however it still does require a significant amount to keep the panels cleaned as dust reduces their efficiency. They’re also very expensive so it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect there to ever be a 30×30 mile field of the panels. That’s 900 square miles, which is over three times the size of the nation of Singapore.

  • http://wwcpd.org Dakota

    Unfortunately the water doesn’t exist to make those dreams a reality. Heat concentrating solar power as is mentioned requires large amounts of water and unlike other power generating methods solar power plants in their search for the sun and vast open spaces do not have the luxury of placing themselves next to a sufficiently large body of water. As for the photovoltaic technology it admittedly needs a lot less water, however it still does require a significant amount to keep the panels cleaned as dust reduces their efficiency. They’re also very expensive so it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect there to ever be a 30×30 mile field of the panels. That’s 900 square miles, which is over three times the size of the nation of Singapore.

  • http://www.mehulkamdar.blogspot.com Mehul Kamdar

    It might be a better idea to use solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels on homes and on commercial and public buildings in order to reduce the consumption of power from other sources. This is possible using tax breaks and technology available today. In any case, Texas is among the states looking at using renewable energy to the maximum possible extent. Let them plan ahead on how to do this – I am sure that they would figure an optimal way out.

  • http://www.mehulkamdar.blogspot.com Mehul Kamdar

    It might be a better idea to use solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels on homes and on commercial and public buildings in order to reduce the consumption of power from other sources. This is possible using tax breaks and technology available today. In any case, Texas is among the states looking at using renewable energy to the maximum possible extent. Let them plan ahead on how to do this – I am sure that they would figure an optimal way out.

  • Jake Richardson

    You can see the study is linked under New Jobs. The word cited is the link.

  • david

    Where is the study? You don’t link to it. We are just supposed to take your word for it?

  • david

    Where is the study? You don’t link to it. We are just supposed to take your word for it?

  • sujoy

    I think , I have to agree with Jake…there are some other technologies available and some of them are on research level….those will give us some good options also..

  • sujoy

    I think , I have to agree with Jake…there are some other technologies available and some of them are on research level….those will give us some good options also..

  • Jake Richardson

    Sorry for the double post. My comment did not show up at first, so I re-posted.

  • Jake Richardson

    According to this source, the total US solar capacity is 9,000 MW.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW.”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    US solar capacity is about 9,000 MW according to this source.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW.”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    US solar capacity is about 9,000 MW according to this source.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW.”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    US solar capacity appears to be about 9,000 MW.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW. ”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    US solar capacity appears to be about 9,000 MW.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW. ”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    The Solar Energy Industries Association states the current US solar capacity is about 9,000 MW.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW. ”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Jake

    The Solar Energy Industries Association states the current US solar capacity is about 9,000 MW.

    “The report notes that 1,265 megawatts (MW) of solar power of all types were installed in 2008, bringing total U.S. solar power capacity up 16 percent to 9,183 MW. ”

    http://www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=385

  • Carter

    Having driven through Texas a few times, I’d say there is plenty of flat open space currently doing nothing but cooking in the sun.

    and boy howdy are they (understandably) gobbling electricity for A/C – on one trip it was so hot that while getting gas I almost burned myself carelessly touching the roof of my car in the process.

  • Carter

    Having driven through Texas a few times, I’d say there is plenty of flat open space currently doing nothing but cooking in the sun.

    and boy howdy are they (understandably) gobbling electricity for A/C – on one trip it was so hot that while getting gas I almost burned myself carelessly touching the roof of my car in the process.

  • russ

    Hi Jake.

    Might want to check on the mW vs. gW again – 9000 mW is nothing. If they used the number on gnn.com they are very confused.

  • russ

    Hi Jake.

    Might want to check on the mW vs. gW again – 9000 mW is nothing. If they used the number on gnn.com they are very confused.

  • Jake

    Diego,

    The solar electric power capacity in the US is about 9,000 megawatts.

    “Installed solar power capacity in the United States rose by 17 percent to 8,775 megawatts in 2008″

    http://www.gnn.com/article/installed-solar-capacity-up-in-us/393262

  • Jake

    Diego,

    The solar electric power capacity in the US is about 9,000 megawatts.

    “Installed solar power capacity in the United States rose by 17 percent to 8,775 megawatts in 2008″

    http://www.gnn.com/article/installed-solar-capacity-up-in-us/393262

  • Jake

    Russ asked a question about a reference to storage batteries. Perhaps to be more accurate I should have written storage devices.

    Here is what I found in the study document:

    “Advancements in conventional batteries are being made all the time. Xcel Energy is

    currently developing and testing new sodium-sulfur and other batteries for use with wind farms.

    There are many other battery types such as flow batteries and new advances in lithium ion, support of

    battery research and development is extremely important to our energy future.”

  • Jake

    Russ asked a question about a reference to storage batteries. Perhaps to be more accurate I should have written storage devices.

    Here is what I found in the study document:

    “Advancements in conventional batteries are being made all the time. Xcel Energy is

    currently developing and testing new sodium-sulfur and other batteries for use with wind farms.

    There are many other battery types such as flow batteries and new advances in lithium ion, support of

    battery research and development is extremely important to our energy future.”

  • http://www.gstriatum.com/solarenergy/ Diego

    “Texas was found by one study to have a potential capacity of 148,000 megawatts. That is just one solar technology type. (The current total solar power capacity of the US is about 9,000 MW, – wind is 26,000 MW)”

    Dude, dont you mean 9,000 GW??

  • http://www.gstriatum.com/solarenergy/ Diego

    “Texas was found by one study to have a potential capacity of 148,000 megawatts. That is just one solar technology type. (The current total solar power capacity of the US is about 9,000 MW, – wind is 26,000 MW)”

    Dude, dont you mean 9,000 GW??

  • http://virgintech.org Shahab khan

    Well i must say this is amazing. What could be better than this, i mean powering whole texas with solar power is really a great step!!

  • http://virgintech.org Shahab khan

    Well i must say this is amazing. What could be better than this, i mean powering whole texas with solar power is really a great step!!

  • russ

    Hi Jake – I am interested in the batteries you mention for solar thermal. Just exactly what are they?

    ‘Concentrating solar power uses mirrors to increase energy intensity to heat a liquid to 400 degrees C, which reportedly stores the energy more efficiently that conversion directly to electricity that is stored in batteries. The stored heated liquid can produce energy on cloudy days and at night.’

    The above paragraph is giving me great problems. Maybe on a green blog it is OK but in the real world I don’t think it happens.

  • russ

    Hi Jake – I am interested in the batteries you mention for solar thermal. Just exactly what are they?

    ‘Concentrating solar power uses mirrors to increase energy intensity to heat a liquid to 400 degrees C, which reportedly stores the energy more efficiently that conversion directly to electricity that is stored in batteries. The stored heated liquid can produce energy on cloudy days and at night.’

    The above paragraph is giving me great problems. Maybe on a green blog it is OK but in the real world I don’t think it happens.

  • wheresmyjumper

    great in theory, until you realize you’d have to explain to J

  • wheresmyjumper

    great in theory, until you realize you’d have to explain to J

  • Allie

    Put people to work building that trillion dollar solar power plant.

  • Allie

    Put people to work building that trillion dollar solar power plant.

  • Aodhan

    The point of building these solar plants is to make Texas a self sufficient state that has a clean burning, permanent way to provide energy to its resident. I do not know much about the Texan geology but I have never heard about Texas being abundant in Uranium or other nuclear fuels. One thing that Texas does have is plenty of sunshine. Texas using solar power is pretty much the same as the great plain states using wind turbines. While the initial cost is a lot to ask for, it is for the long term. The cost over the period of time should be reasonably low as long as the plants do not get into disrepair. In addition, using the solar energy does not leave any waste behind. While the waste may not initially be a big deal, it will accumulate over the years and eventually turn into a big deal. While 11 900 square miles is very big, Texas is also a very big state. Texas is over 250,000 square miles which means 11,000 square miles is not really a big deal. Plus, since the whole state receives pretty much the same sunshine, the plants can be put in the more inhospitable land. Also, all of the jobs created will help to provide a real boost to the economy.

  • Aodhan

    The point of building these solar plants is to make Texas a self sufficient state that has a clean burning, permanent way to provide energy to its resident. I do not know much about the Texan geology but I have never heard about Texas being abundant in Uranium or other nuclear fuels. One thing that Texas does have is plenty of sunshine. Texas using solar power is pretty much the same as the great plain states using wind turbines. While the initial cost is a lot to ask for, it is for the long term. The cost over the period of time should be reasonably low as long as the plants do not get into disrepair. In addition, using the solar energy does not leave any waste behind. While the waste may not initially be a big deal, it will accumulate over the years and eventually turn into a big deal. While 11 900 square miles is very big, Texas is also a very big state. Texas is over 250,000 square miles which means 11,000 square miles is not really a big deal. Plus, since the whole state receives pretty much the same sunshine, the plants can be put in the more inhospitable land. Also, all of the jobs created will help to provide a real boost to the economy.

  • anon

    Haha what are you smoking papi? You’re phrasing that awfully positively. . . There isn’t a situation where ANY of our states will be pursuing projects on that order any time soon. It’s a dream.

  • anon

    Haha what are you smoking papi? You’re phrasing that awfully positively. . . There isn’t a situation where ANY of our states will be pursuing projects on that order any time soon. It’s a dream.

  • iamlost

    If only this technology is cheap enough for poor countries which happens to have an abundance of sunlight

  • iamlost

    If only this technology is cheap enough for poor countries which happens to have an abundance of sunlight

  • http://onlinebaguio.com Papi_pol

    This is a very good story. Thinking that most cities may run on the sun would really reduce our daily fossil fuel use for a significant degree.

  • http://onlinebaguio.com Papi_pol

    This is a very good story. Thinking that most cities may run on the sun would really reduce our daily fossil fuel use for a significant degree.

  • Payam

    Sure it will cost alot, but just imagine how much of that money we would save after 10 years of using it.

    You guys are all talking about short term gains when there is virtually none except for job positions. Long term is where the true value lies.

  • Payam

    Sure it will cost alot, but just imagine how much of that money we would save after 10 years of using it.

    You guys are all talking about short term gains when there is virtually none except for job positions. Long term is where the true value lies.

  • Jake Richardson

    Thanks. I think that a lot of the solar collecting technology there will also be manufactured there, and it will cost far less.

  • anon

    Umm, 11 30×30 mi plants That’s nearly 11,000 square miles of solar panels. That’s TWO CONNECTICUTS paved over with mirrors. I can buy a yard-square meter online for $40, which means I could buy just the mirrors needed for a cool $1,140 billion dollars. Maybe there’s some economy of scale, but that’s still just the mirrors, no liquid sodium or piping or anything.

    By contract, a 1,140 billion could be used to build 250 grossly overbudget $1.1 billion dollar nuclear reactors plus fuel costs for eternity, each generating 1,100 MW, for a little under TWICE the energy Texas needs. Make them thorium burning, and the waste isn’t even a big deal. Just a whole bunch of power on a footprint of new york city instead of all of connecticut.

  • anon

    Umm, 11 30×30 mi plants That’s nearly 11,000 square miles of solar panels. That’s TWO CONNECTICUTS paved over with mirrors. I can buy a yard-square meter online for $40, which means I could buy just the mirrors needed for a cool $1,140 billion dollars. Maybe there’s some economy of scale, but that’s still just the mirrors, no liquid sodium or piping or anything.

    By contract, a 1,140 billion could be used to build 250 grossly overbudget $1.1 billion dollar nuclear reactors plus fuel costs for eternity, each generating 1,100 MW, for a little under TWICE the energy Texas needs. Make them thorium burning, and the waste isn’t even a big deal. Just a whole bunch of power on a footprint of new york city instead of all of connecticut.

  • JOhn Davis

    Wow you do raise some good points dude!

    RT

    http://www.privacy.pro.tc

  • JOhn Davis

    Wow you do raise some good points dude!

    RT

    http://www.privacy.pro.tc

  • buck

    How much does a 900 square mile plant cost? I am guessing it is insane.

  • buck

    How much does a 900 square mile plant cost? I am guessing it is insane.

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