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The Power of Solar Energy Reached New Levels in October

According to a report from The Atlantic, solar power was the United States’ sole new power source during the month of October. Power plants that were activated in the United States during this particular month managed to generate a total of 530 megawatts of electricity. What’s even more, every single electron that was put on the grid came directly from the sun’s rays. Now considering the fact that an output of 530 megawatts is not a particularly-large amount of power, (equivalent to what a medium-sized natural gas-fired power plant would produce) you may not be very impressed. However, it is very important to consider the level of progress that has been made over the years.The Power of Solar Energy Reached New Levels in October 2013 | Longhorn Solar

In the realm of alternative energy, solar power is no longer being considered a niche play. Reports such as this are providing conclusive evidence that this type of energy is in fact highly efficient. This is especially proven with the fact that October’s statistics don’t even include the number of photovoltaic panel roof installations that were conducted on home and businesses across the country.

Beyond the fact that use of solar energy over fossil fuels is much healthier alternative for our planet, photovoltaic power plant stations can also be built fairly quickly. The majority of the new plants that were activated during the month of October were photovoltaic, which means that they can be built small near cities to eliminate the profound cost of new transmission lines, or big to take advantage of large economies. The remaining plants were involved in solar thermal projects that used thousands of heliostats, or mirrors, to focus sun rays on a liquid-filled boiler, which would in turn create steam to power an electricity-generating turbine.

Despite both using solar energy, the solar thermal projects have an advantage over photovoltaic power plants. The power plants are able to store the heat that is produced and use it at a later date, even when the sun is not shining. One particular station that came online in October, the Solana Generating Station, which runs on 250-megawatts, is the first station in the United States that has the ability to keep generating electricity six hours past the setting of the sun.

Plans for future photovoltaic installations are in place in part due to a key federal tax credit that will decrease from 30 percent to 10 percent before the dawn of 2017. Six million American homes will be able to run on solar energy if all installations are built.

(Source: The Atlantic)