O We’re Solaring; Solar Me Timbers
So the sun puts out enough energy in one second to power the United States for 9,000 years. Please take a moment to appreciate that independently researched statistic. I do it cuz I love you. It seems like for some time now humans have been trying to efficiently harness some of that energy, and I’m not talking about maladjusted kids lighting ants on fire or stoner nerds find a butane-free alternative to spark their bingers. BrightSource, a company based in Oakland, announced on April 11th that they had secured a $1.6 billion loan from Uncle Sam on top of the $168 million gave them for the Ivanpah power solar power plant in the Southern California desert.
They need all that money to finance what is to be one of the largest solar installations in the world. BrightSource plans to utilize “solar thermal” technology which transports the sun’s energy into massive (three to be exact) steam turbines. Ivanpah will have a greater capacity than all of the other plants in America combined, but the median size of solar projects is dropping. It seems that smaller, if not uglier, plants are easier to get by environmentalists and aesthetes alike.
The day after the government finalized its loan to BrightSource they doled out another $1.2 billion to SunPower for a project near San Luis Obispo. Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO, hopes that in the future solar companies can raise capital from banks & not have to rely solely on the government. All of this seems to be an indication that the industry is moving in the right direction. As is often the cause with solar I think it wise to be cautiously optimistic as we wait for it become a truly viable alternative to rescue from the clutches of our oil dependence.
Check out the April 16th-22nd Economist for more.