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The profitable nature of solar power in Spain has given rise to strange installation locations, such as this plant which towers over a cemetary.  (Source: AP)
Spain has found a controversial way to boost solar adoption

When it comes to solar power, the real dilemmas are efficiency and cost.  On the one hand, efficiency has steadily improved over the last couple decades to the point where it’s approaching the utility prices of other power generation methods.  Exotic technologies promise even greater gains.  However, the price of solar-generated power still remains at least five times as expensive as coal-power, the chief source of power in the U.S. (compared to the leading candidate, nuclear, which is approximately 1.5 to 2 times as expensive).

While solar adoption from a cost standpoint is unattractive, there's much debate over whether commercial adoption is needed to spur further research to propel solar into the realm of cost competitiveness.  While many nations like the U.S. and China have modestly taken this position, adopting solar at a moderate rate, one nation has fallen head over heels for solar -- Spain.

Spain is allowing solar and wind power plants to charge as much as 10 times the rates of coal power plants, making it possible for solar power installations to earn utilities big money.  On average, recent rate increases have raised solar charges to over 7 times the rates of coal or natural gas rates.   The costs are added onto consumers' power bills.

The results are mixed; while Spanish power bills are at record highs, the number of deployments is soaring.  Spain has 14 GW of solar power, or the equivalent capacity of nine average nuclear reactors, under construction -- the most of any nation.  Florida’s FPL Group Inc. and French Electricite de France SA are among the many jumping to build in Spain.

Gabriel Calzada, an economist and professor at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, states, "Who wouldn’t want to enter a business that’s paid many times more than the market rate, and where the customer is guaranteed for life?"

By 2009, 42 percent of Spaniards energy bills -- approximately 95 euros ($127) on average -- will be provided by alternative energy.  Spanish law requires power distributors to buy all clean energy produced in the first 25 years of the plants' lives.  The government also recently raised the rate of Spain believes this sacrifice will pay off as fossil fuel resources become depleted and emissions standards tighten.

Karsten von Blumenthal, an industrial analyst at Hamburg-based SES Research GmbH states, "The guarantee is more attractive than what other countries offer.  Actually the U.S. has better space for solar, in the deserts of California and Nevada."

The U.S. meanwhile is also advancing thanks in part to President Obama's solar initiatives passed earlier this year as part of the federal stimulus legislation.  Over 6 GW of capacity is planned for the U.S.

Fred Morse, an official at the Washington- based Solar Energy Industries Association trade group and author of the first report to the White House on solar power (1969), says that the U.S. needs to adopt more incentives if it hopes to catch Spain.  He states, "The incentives, if implemented promptly and effectively, should greatly facilitate the financing of these plants."

One promising benefit of the Spanish solar boom is that it is increasing the number of plants utilizing new, potentially more efficient technologies like solar thermal or sterling engines.  Spain is limiting the number of photovoltaic plants (solar panel-based designs), but is giving out unlimited licenses for solar thermal and other alternative plants.

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RE: No choice equals tyranny
By heffeque on 5/15/2009 10:46:15 AM , Rating: 2
As half American half Spanish... I do prefer Spain as a country to live in.
Sure there are more luxuries in the US, but as for freedom and quality of life, Spain is actually quite ahead right now.
I prefer a good life with less money and less luxuries than a life where atheists are considered anti-American (interesting taking into consideration that some of the most important figures that molded the US and it's constitution where non-believers), criticizing your own country equals being unpatriotic, gay people are considered as mentally sick and violence is socially more acceptable than nudism.

RE: No choice equals tyranny
By Steve73 on 5/15/2009 8:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
There were people who enjoyed living under Hitler, Stalin and Francisco Franco.

Atheist have as many rights as the next guy in America.

Your statement about the most important fathers being atheist is incorrect. Some of the important founding fathers were deist. Deists believe in a supreme being (a creator). All of the founding fathers believed in a higher being. Are unalienable rights that Thomas Jefferson talks about are based on the ideal of a higher being. In other words are rights don't come from the government they come from a higher being.

Sometimes free speech hurts because it includes the good with the bad. People have there opinions, sometimes their opinions are hurtful and other times they can be pleasing.

RE: No choice equals tyranny
By heffeque on 5/17/2009 12:13:37 PM , Rating: 2
There were people who enjoyed living under Bush too.

Atheists don't have it easy in the States. In theory they have the same rights, in practice... not so true.

"In other words are rights don't come from the government they come from a higher being."

Are you serious? I hope that that was sarcasm at it's best or something.

Also... are rights -> our rights.

RE: No choice equals tyranny
By Steve73 on 5/17/2009 7:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
How do atheist not have it easy in the states?

Are you serious? I hope that that was sarcasm at it's best or something.

Yes. What do you think natural rights are.

1776 United States Declaration of Independence "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Thomas Jefferson

RE: No choice equals tyranny
By heffeque on 5/18/2009 11:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
My creator is the union of my mother and father in bed, or maybe in another place, but still... most people are created by their parents having sex. What about you? Did Jesus Christ create you? LOL!

Yeah, atheists don't have it easy in the States. Just search around. Don't search in Fox news though, it's highly unlikely that you'll find any of that there.

And no, natural rights aren't "a higher being", they are the produce of a healthy intelligent social standard that has been evolving for centuries and these are the ones that we have now. Although now that I think of it, today's aren't so healthy or intelligent, but anyway...

I hope that next thing I'll read from you is a "gravity is just a theory and it's wrong, it's actually Jesus Christ pulling us down to this flat Earth we live in". Then I'll know that you were joking all along.

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