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Dell's Solar Grove, located at its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas  (Source: McBride OxBlue Camera via Jetson Green)

Children check out the Florida Power and Light's DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center outside Arcadia, Florida.  (Source: daylife)
The solar industry continues to shine brightly

As costs of solar deployments drop, many are looking to get in on a piece of the action.  Solar shingles and solar windows are just a couple of the promising technologies likely to see mass production over the next few years.  However, traditional installations are also thriving.

Dell Computer just received a completed 130 kW installation of Solar Trees at its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.  The installation was designed by Envision Solar, BP Solar, and Weitz Company.  Contracting was handled by McBride Electric.

The resulting parking lot, dubbed the Dell Solar Grove, both provides 50 shady parking spots and clean green energy.  The lot also features Envision Solar's CleanCharge solar charging stations using the Coulomb ChargePoint technology.  These stations will help charge current and upcoming plug-in vehicles, such as the Tesla Roadster or 2011 Chevy Volt.  The plan to use solar to charge EVs is also being championed by Japanese automaker Nissan, who looks to use solar to charge up its 2011 Leaf EV.

Also making solar news is the near completion of the Soto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida.  Owned by Florida Power & Light Company, this 25 MW installation features 90,000 photovoltaic panels and will go online by the end of this month.  When it does go online, it will become one of the nation's single largest solar installations.  Together with centers in Martin County and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida will be shortly getting 110 MW of new solar generation capacity, boosting it to the second largest solar-producing state in the nation.

The new Soto Center will generate enough power for 3,000 homes.  FPL Vice President and Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy brags, "Large-scale solar projects such as FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center provide Florida with the opportunity to create and attract more clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change.  Large-scale solar projects such as FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center provide Florida with the opportunity to create and attract more clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change."

The plant's construction and maintenance have created 400 jobs.  The project will also generate an estimated $2M USD in annual tax revenues, which will help fund schools and other local services, starting next year.  The center is estimated to cut nearly 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions -- the equivalent of taking 4,500 cars off the road.  It will also save 277,000 barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

While costs are dropping, solar power costs per kWh remain higher than other forms of alternative energy.  Once that gap closes, expect solar to see an even greater jump in interest.  Until then projects like these will surely continue across the nation, albeit at a slower pace.



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RE: Hm...
By mars2k on 10/27/2009 1:38:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hey BobSmith, when we're done with the uranium can we keep the waste at your house? And what about the nuclear plant when we de-commision that. Can you handle that in your front yard?


RE: Hm...
By JediJeb on 10/27/2009 4:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
If we reprocess the waste there would be very little in the end, and if they want to build a storage facility in my front yard for what is left over they are welcome. I will rent them all the space they need :) If you use Thorium as fuel that would leave very very little waste to be processed. People who worry so much about nuclear waste probably have watched too many bad Sci-Fi movies. There is more Uranium going up the stacks of a coal plant than would escape from a nuclear power plant.

You would also be suprised but there are Thorium and Strontium isotopes in your drinking water, though at levels that are barely detectable and those are naturally occuring. Radioactive isotopes are everywhere, you are not going to find a place where they don't exist. It is part of nature so why not use it for something constructive like powering our homes in a clean way. Also the waste products from the manufacture of those solar panels are probably worse than what you would get from a nuclear plant.


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