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Big Money Bets Solar Cheaper than Coal by 2020

photo_012241.jpegThe planets may be aligned to finally make solar competitive with coal, according to an article in Bloomberg.com by Greg Chang. Rising natural gas prices, the extension of tax credits for solar investment, and the near-certainty that carbon emissions caps will be imposed by the next U.S. administration, will make it happen. A concentrated solar thermal plant in California’s Mojave Desert, run by FPL, Inc., uses 550,000 mirrors to concentrate solar power.

“At noon on a typical workday, technicians in a two-story control room monitor a dozen screens showing the heat generated by each array of mirrors. As temperatures creep past 700 degrees, icons blink to red from green, indicating the center is ready to feed electricity to the California grid.”

The resulting steam turns turbines that generate electricity — enough to power 112,55 L.A.-area homes. Concentrated solar thermal’s potential has not escaped the attention of forward-thinking investors with big money:

“Chevron, Goldman Sachs, FPL, PG&E and other companies have filed more than 50 applications with the Bureau of Land Management to lease government-owned desert property for solar power systems. Google’s philantropic division put $10 million into eSolar, a start-up in Pasadena, California.” –Greg Chang, Bloomberg.com

 

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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.

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