August 29, 2009

Makes Sense

This is they type of alternative energy projects that make sense, with a rational approach towards conversion to "renewable energy". Also a common sense approach to the reporting of the subject.

FROM-Denver Green Business Examiner-Michael Crist

Xcel to augment coal with solar

Xcel Energy's Cameo power plant is scheduled to become the first coal fired power plant to be linked to solar energy production. This $4.5 million pilot project is a partnership between Xcel Energy and Abengoa Solar. It will study how effective a field of parabolic mirrors can be as a means to reduce coal consumption and the feasibility of electricity generation to move in and out between solar production and coal generation without negatively affecting overall production and performance.

The 4 megawatt array of mirrors will focus the sun's rays on a central collection unit that will preheat water to be turned into steam to power electricity generating turbines. It is hoped this solar ability will reduce some 900 tons of coal consumption at the plant which burns approximately 230,000 tons per year.

Abengoa Solar is one of the world's leading solar technology development companies. They currently are in the planning stages of a 280 megawatt array in Arizona which would be the world's largest solar power plant. They have U.S. offices in Lakewood and San Francisco. Their current projects include the Jefferson County Detention Facility, the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona, Ft. Sam Huston in Texas and the Frito Lay plant in Modesto, California.

If this pilot proves successful it will pave the way for a marriage between coal and solar which will be beneficial to both technologies. The transition to alternative energy technologies will take time, we cannot simply flip a switch, and we will need a mixture of energy production sources into the foreseeable future. Certainly the growth of solar and wind production will help to augment more traditional means of production, reducing the strain of demand on those means, while continuing the growth curve for these developing technologies.

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