According to the title of an article published in The City of Lancaster’s Outlook (Fall 2009) magazine “The Future Looks Bright for Solar Power in Lancaster”.
My small town, all 475,000 of us, are at the forefront of solar energy! On August 5, 2009, eSolar unveiled the 5 MW (mega watt) demonstration plant known as Sierra SunTower. The solar power plant has 24,000 mirrors and two giant tower house boilers. The boilers create what’s known as “thermal solar” which is said to be more cost-effective than the standard photovoltaic approach used in solar cells. The process creates steam to drive the turbine generators. The project was completed in 14 month time frame and has already begun to distribute power to Southern California Edison.
eSolar’s site says “Sierra SunTower will supply 5 MW of clean, renewable energy to the grid. This full-scale power plant, the only one of its kind in the U.S., produces electricity for Southern California Edison (SCE) and will power up to 4,000 homes.”
The 5 MW output of Sierra SunTower will reduce CO2 emissions by 7,000 tons
per year. For perspective, Sierra SunTower’s annual impact is equivalent to:
• Planting 5,265 acres of trees
• Removing 1,368 automobiles from the road
• Saving 650,000 gallons of gasoline
The CEO, Bill Gross, has been dreaming of making solar energy the leading energy producer since he was young. He calls eSolar power plant an “economic miracle” stating,
“…the sun provides ten thousand times more energy than the whole Earth uses- but solar only contributes less than one tenth of one percent of all the energy the Earth needs.… It is the first solar plant that delivers the lowest cost solar electricity in history and finally competes with fossil fuel electricity directly, we currently compete with natural gas and as we continue to drive down the costs we will even compete with coal.”
The small town I live in is a “shining example” of how it will pave the way in the development of solar energy in America. We have the potential to become “the Alternative Energy Capitol of the World” as Mayor R. Rex Parris stated.
This project is going take our community in a different direction on so many levels. Outlook magazine also mentioned this is the “first of many clean, green power generation facilities planned for the Antelope Valley”.
“The Antelope Valley may well be on it’s way to becoming the cradle of alternative energy for Southern California”
-San Fernando Valley Business Journal
To top it all off, The National Geographic Channel recently aired a program about the eSolar facility and it’s construction.
I’m hoping in the near future, I’ll get the opportunity to tour the facility and share my experience with you. I would’ve never guessed that my small town had the most clear sunny days than any where in the U.S. – Do you think it’s time to get that solar oven we’ve had our eye’s on?
[This post was written by Leslie Quigley.]