What better thing to do on this gloomy Bay Area summer morning than dream of solar energy? This week local energy provider PG&E announced that they will be investing big in solar power, working with OptiSolar and Sun Power to construct two huge plants. From Grist:
Together, the plants could generate 800 megawatts of electricity at peak capacity, enough to power 239,000 homes. (Perspective: The total peak capacity of every photovoltaic panel in the U.S. as of last year was 750 MW.) The largest plant will cover nine square miles with solar panels, but it will be "very visually unobtrusive," says OptiSolar CEO Randy Goldstein; with panels only three feet high, "It almost looks like a lake." Both plants aim to be up and running by 2011, dependent on state and local approval and a renewal of tax credits currently stalled in Congress. Photovoltaic power has until now been constrained to rooftops, considered too inefficient for utility-scale use; the PG&E deals are "monumental," says Julia Hamm of the Solar Electric Power Association. "I really think it demonstrates that the time for solar has come."
- Endangered Species Act in danger! Dubya wants to relax the rules that require scientific oversight of federal projects so that they wouldn't necessarily have to report ecological impact. Grrrrr.
- Magic invisibility cloak! Yeah OK not really, but all of this bending light the wrong way stuff that's been going on over at UC Berkeley is still damn awesome. The urge to try to sneak into the lab is strong.