Earlier this year, Southern California Edison made a commitment to install a whopping 250 MW of photovoltaic power. To make that happen, they are planning 150 projects, each of which will blanket the roof of some gigantic commercial building will panels. This week, they completed the first one.
The site: the 600,000 square foot roof of a warehouse owned by ProLogis, Inc. The monstrous, $10 million array will generate 2 MW of power for about 1,300 homes. When the other 149 projects are completed, the resulting 250 MW of power will serve 160,000 homes. When all is said and done, there will be two square miles of solar panels.
On the surface, it seems like a step in the right direction. This first project even used thin film panels from First Solar, a move that encourages further development in the field. Getting to the 250 MW goal, though, is going to be expensive. Even though thin films and other PV technologies have come down in price, Edison is still expecting their solar power to cost 27 cents per kwh â€“ 19 cents more expensive than conventional generation. Whoâ€™s going to pay for it? Naturally, Edison wants the customers to pay for it, while the customers feel Edisonâ€™s shareholders should foot the bill.
Rooftop solar has many attractive qualities â€“ it creates new real estate value and it brings the power generation close to the site of power consumption. Seeing a grey urban rooftop transformed into a solar landscape is pretty and gives residents a feeling of progress and satisfaction. But if cheaper solar power can be provided through, say, desert-based solar thermal plants, then I question whether these projects should be applauded or rethought.
Via LA Times
written by Cliffski, December 02, 2008
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