Technology drives today’s world and electricity drives technology. The primary source of electricity till date has been from fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. But as these reserves dry out, there is an urgent need for alternate, cleaner and renewable sources of electric power. The one source that stands out, quite literally as bright as day light, is the sun. Realizing the untapped potential of solar energy, several efforts are being made around the world are looking to harness this energy into more usable forms. Here’s a list of some of the large scale projects that are taking shape as you read and might as well go on to shape our futures.
Google to help build World’s Largest Solar Tower Power Plant
Google seems to have all the answers. After taking the podium as the undisputed leaders of search on the internet, they are now attempting to answer the search for alternate energy. On April 11th, 2011 Google announced in its official blog,
We’ve invested $168 million in an exciting new solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert in California. Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will generate 392 gross MW of clean, solar energy.
This happens to be the singe largest investment Google has ever made.
Mammoth Solar Panel farm in Sahara to power European Cities
Sahara has had the distinction of being the largest desert on the face of the earth. Before you dismiss it as a big waste of land, consider this. The Sahara could soon be home to a mammoth Solar Panel farm generating energy for Europe. Electricity thus generated would be transmitted via high voltage lines being built at an enormous expense, but could greatly reduce the carbon footprint of Europe. And by 2050, could be generating up to 100GW of power. The idea has won the appreciation of Gordon Brown and the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Hopefully, Africa will see a piece of the pie too.
South Africa announces plan for the world’s largest solar park
In 2008, South Africa experienced severe shortage of electricity and suffered frequent blackouts. Ever since then, electricity has been carefully rationed in the country. Some of the countries surrounding South Africa also depend on them for power. Realizing the need for a long term solution to the problem, they have decided to build a massive solar power plant at a whopping £18.42bn. The country’s Northern Cape province has been found suitable for such a plant and the project is estimated to provide for one-tenth of the country’s power needs by 2012.
Largest solar plant for U.S. Army may produce a gigawatt of power
The US army seems to have joined the greening efforts. The army has agreed to lease about 14000 acres of its land at Fort Irwin, Mojave Desert, California for the construction of a 1 GW solar energy complex by the Irwin Energy Security Partners(IESP) at a cost of $2 billion. IESP is a joint venture between ACCIONA Solar Power in Henderson, NV and the Clark Energy Group in Bethesda, MD. The power would be used for the activities at the base as well as supplied to the public electric grid.
California approves gigantic solar power plants to double US capacity
The deserts seem to be taking center stage at this point and turning into hubs of activity for power generation. The US Bureau of Land Management has granted the use of close to 10000 acres of the Californian desert for 2 Solar projects. The 1000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project is to be developed by the Solar Millennium Inc. at a cost of $6 billion over the next 6 years. A smaller 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy Project by NextEra Energy Resources will come up in about 3 years.
Ambitious proposal for North America’s largest solar roof in New Jersey
Roof tops of large buildings offer excellent space for installation of solar panels. The Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey is showing the way after deciding to utilize its roof top space of 322,410 sq feet for building the largest single-rooftop solar power system in North America. The system is to be built and maintained by the SunPower Corporation and will cut down the mall’s dependency on other sources of power by a tenth. Another such rooftop installation is being planned for a distribution center of White Rose Inc. Both these installations will produce close to 5 MW of power each.
Cobra energy eyes $1 billion solar power plant for Australia
Harnessing Solar power is becoming a global phenomenon. Australia now joins this list after a Spanish company proposed to build a $1 billion solar power plant on its soil. Cobra Energy, a part of the conglomerate ACS, has applied for funding from the Australian government under the Solar Flagships program which aims to offload 400MW of the country’s energy requirements to solar energy. Cobra has the expertise and has already executed similar projects at installations in Spain. This particular installation will be watched for its innovative approach to storing excess solar energy in molten salts to continue generating power even after sun down.
Tata Power plans India’s largest photovoltaic power plant
Here’s an example of the developing countries too doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint. India’s ambitious National Solar Mission was launched with the objective of establishing India as a global leader in solar energy. The mission will run in 3 phases to reach a target of 20GW of solar power by the end of its third phase. Responses from across the country have been very positive with several hundred bids pouring in. One such proposal comes from one of the most respected and trusted corporate houses of India, the Tata group. Tata Power has proposed the construction of the country’s largest photovoltaic power plant in Mithapur, Gujarat which would produce 50MW of electric power for use in both Tata’s plants as well as the public grid.