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Cleantech's solar array will be seven times larger than the next closest rival

Portugal announced in April that it was home to one of the world's largest solar arrays. The 150 acre, 11-megawatt (MW) solar plant was built by Catavento and PowerLight Corporation and is capable of powering 8,000 homes in Serpa.

Cleantech America LLC., a San Francisco-based company, plans to build a solar farm that would far eclipse the one built in Portugal. The new 80 MW farm, known as the Kings River Conservation District Community Choice Solar Farm, will be situated on 640 acres of land and is scheduled to be completed by 2011.

"We're pretty confident that solar farms on this scale are going to have an industry-changing impact," said Cleantech CEO Bill Barnes. "We think it's the wave of the future. This scale of project, I think, creates a tipping point for renewable energy."

"We think the impact for it will be similar to the impact of the computer chip," Barnes continued. "So too will economies of scale like the Community Choice farm drive down the cost of solar."

Cleantech estimates that the energy generated by the solar array will be enough to power 20,000 homes.



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RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By Shintai on 7/10/2007 9:58:30 AM , Rating: 2
It depends on the location. If desert etc.

But atleast in green fertile areas here. There is sheeps and other domestic animals walking around the solar panels and eating grass.

Its easy to mix many interests.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By masher2 (blog) on 7/10/2007 10:10:14 AM , Rating: 4
> "There is sheeps and other domestic animals walking around the solar panels and eating grass."

It doesn't work that way. Solar panels work by occluding sunlight. Grass doesn't grow where there is no sun. Nor can you farm underneath a solar panel either. There is certainly some small amount of land between panels, but the area covered by a panel isn't useful for grazing or anything else.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By Shintai on 7/10/2007 10:31:55 AM , Rating: 2
You do now alot of plants, including grass dont need direct sunlight?

And yes..grass grows.
http://www.fotosearch.com/bigcomp.asp?path=AGE/AGE...


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By masher2 (blog) on 7/10/2007 10:45:14 AM , Rating: 3
Here's a link to a photo of a real solar array, not a few cells sitting in someone's backyard. See any grass growing under those panels?

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=6738

And even for smaller panels such as your photo displays, the same issue applies. They block a certain percentage of sunlight. So grass may still grow underneath them...but its less grass, and it grows slower.

The total amount of food energy obtainable from an acre of land is a linear function of the solar energy impinging upon it. Every square foot you cover with solar panels subtracts from that. Thus-- even if you allow grazing on that land-- you need a substantially larger piece of land to service the same number of animals.

As for modern farming, its just not possible under solar cells, even small ones. Irrigation, crop spraying, harvesting equipment, etc...none of it works well in tiny confined spaces like that.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By IckesTheSane on 7/10/2007 2:21:45 PM , Rating: 3
MIT's Technology Review had a photo essay on that solar plant in Portugal.

http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/18300/

In it, they do list that "The panels are high enough off the ground for sheep to graze underneath, and the Serpa park will double as pasture for livestock."

I'm sure the grass will not grow as well as if nothing was covering it up, but it is certainly better than using the land for a single purpose when it can be used for two.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By ZmaxDP on 7/10/2007 2:27:44 PM , Rating: 2
I really liked the nice backyard solar image. Of course, that would never happen at a commercial plant for maintenance reasons, etc... Also, in commercial plants the solar panels move to track the sun all day - usually animals don't like that.

Masher's image is dead on, and still a little idyllic. What is sad is that California chose to endorse and likely help fund a large percentage of a commercial plant. Unlike a nuclear of coal power plant, you can disperse solar cells over a wide area (think rooftops in a city) and get the same electricity generation without having to develop new land. If you'd just put a three kilowatt array on top of every asphalt shingle roof in California, you'd get a hell of a lot more generation capacity than what they're talking about here, and they could get the owners of most of those houses to finance a bit of it out of pocket rather than out of their taxes. Heck, if you really put that many solar panels out there, you'd not only get their costs down per panel by a large factor, the state would end up generating solar power for the rest of the country during peak load times. That's the most valuable form of energy available. I'm not saying get rid of the nuclear and coal and wind generation, you need something to handle capacity that solar isn't ideal for, but it would quickly make California's energy crisis evaporate if they'd just get some decent rebates, tax incentives, and financial assistance worked out...


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By cheburashka on 7/10/2007 3:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you'd just put a three kilowatt array on top of every asphalt shingle roof in California

Most homes in California do not use asphalt shingles.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By Ringold on 7/10/2007 6:44:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
you'd just put a three kilowatt array on top of every asphalt shingle roof in California, you'd get a hell of a lot more generation capacity than what they're talking about here, and they could get the owners of most of those houses to finance a bit of it out of pocket rather than out of their taxes.


Simple government bonds would probably provide vastly superior returns -- at current prices. Current prices which would skyrocket if such a plan were pushed, like prices already have thanks to Germany's voracious appetite for solar panels that it can barely efficiently use. Most homes probably also consume much more than what a simple 3kw setup could provide even at high noon on a summer day. Especially at high noon on a summer day.. The economics just don't even come close to being rational.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By nah on 7/11/2007 10:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
and here I was about to post masher, where are you ;)


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/10/2007 4:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
That's completely true...
But if you use rotating solar panels which vary its position according to then sun's position, using a constant angle that is a bit less than optimal but good enough for your purposes, you can cast a shadow that is not the biggest one in any moment, and better yet, is never focused in the same place during the day, so that grass and all that stuff could still grow beneath a solar panel array.

The problem to my idea is that perhaps it'd take, for the panel to move, a bit of the energy it generates, making this yet more inefficient.

The problem with solar energy is not the idea of solar energy as it is, but rather the way that we, by now, know or try to harness that energy.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By JediSmurf on 7/10/2007 10:26:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is sheeps and other domestic animals walking around the solar panels and eating grass.


Oh come on, "there is sheeps?" subject-verb conflict is acceptable enough. English may not be your language even, but "sheeps"? Sigh.


RE: 640 acres is a lot of land
By blckgrffn on 7/10/2007 10:43:08 AM , Rating: 2
I actually raised sheep growing up, and I know that at least my area, sheep were sometimes called "sheeps" just for kicks... I doubt that happened there though =)

Nat


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