Solar power is the little engine that could

Occasionally I’ll read a report about how alternative energy plants are doing, either in their capacity, innovations, or future.  I read a new summary from The Oil Drum that certainly puts things in perspective in relatively simple terms.  A large(1,900 acres) solar plant is being planned for development in Phoenix Arizona, a reasonable place to build such a facility.  Unfortunately size and ambitions are not as dramatic as some would hope, but….its a start.

…in the U.S. EIA statistics show that the U.S. consumed 2,885 billion kWh of electricity in 1992; in 2002 consumption was 3,660 kWh. Average growth, then, was 77 billion kWh per year over the 10 years. Thus the electrical energy that would be generated by the Arizona plant would supply only 2.3% (1.8/77) of one year’s growth of U.S. electrical consumption. I do not have electrical consumption broken down by state, but I would guess that Arizona could build a solar plant of equal size every year, and they would barely cover their own growth in electrical consumption.

The article also points out how effective wind engery is in Texas.

EIA statistics for renewable energy in 2007 show that wind-generated energy in Texas was 8.1 billion kWh. Thus it would take four and one-half plants the size of the Arizona plant to match Texas wind energy for 2007

I’m sure if we went back in time with the oil industry, the efficiency and purity of oil refinery has evolved such that you can do much more with less.   The combination of our own ability to self manage energy consumption(77 billion kWh? do we really have to grow like that?) and finding new innovative technologies will help address what we and our planet needs.


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