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Published on May 23rd, 2015 | by James Ayre

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Nothing But Rooftop + Parking Lot Solar Installations Needed To Power California?

May 23rd, 2015 by  


Could California actually be powered by nothing other than rooftop solar + parking lot installations? Or is that just a piece of shiny rhetoric used by the proponents of solar energy in the state?

According to a new study just published in the journal Nature Climate Change, California apparently could get all of the electricity that it currently uses from nothing other than rooftop solar + parking lot solar installations.

Image Credit: California Flag via Flickr CC

While the research and findings are of course interesting, it should be remembered that “could” is a far different word from “will.” Political will and societal drive are important factors influencing how much these sectors grow. Either way, though, the research is more fuel for the pro-solar fire, which can help to ignite the political will and societal drive.

Something that is very interesting that the new findings reveal, though, is that, while there’s been fair amount of support in recent years for massive utility-scale solar projects, all that’s really needed is more rooftop and parking lot solar installations… in California, at least.

I guess that would be the dilemma facing a place like California, though, wouldn’t it be? All that’s really needed is a consistent and well-supported low-key approach, but all the resources seem to be directed towards extravagant, arguably over-complex, solutions.

I suppose that proponents of concentrating solar power (CSP) projects are probably taking some offense right now, but, speaking for myself, I certainly can’t say that I’m surprised to hear that rooftop + parking lot solar hold so much potential all on their own — but then again, I’m not a fan of excessively complex “gee whiz” projects, so I suppose that of course that’s what I’d think.

Rather than offer some arguments here, I’ll simply ask the question: Why spend hundreds of millions on huge projects out in the middle of the desert (that will be subject to huge transmission losses) when you can simply build the generating infrastructure near the point of use (in otherwise underutilized space)?

Here’s the study, for those interested.

Image Credit: Public Domain 
 





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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.



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