OptiSolar and SunPower just got contracts with PG&E in California to build solar power photolvotaic (PV) plants of 550 and 250 MW, respectively in San Louis Obispo County.
OptiSolar, a company that has just begun to make thin-film solar panels — with a layer of semiconductor material thinner than a human hair on the back of a glass panel — will install 550 megawatts in San Luis Obispo County, in central California. And the SunPower Corporation, which uses crystalline cells, will build 250 megawatts in the same county. The OptiSolar plant will cover about nine square miles and the SunPower plant about 3.5, although the actual cell area will be smaller.
They will total 800 megawatts. A megawatt is enough power to run a large Wal-Mart. At peak hours, together the plants will produce as much power as a large coal plant or a small nuclear reactor. But they will run far fewer hours of the year so output will be at least a third less than that of a coal plant of the same size.
Currently it appears that the largest PV power plant is a 40 MW plant in Germany, so the OptiSolar plant in particular is absolutely massive. 9 square miles!
I think this is especially cool because OptiSolar just opened up a manufacturing facility in McClellan Park (former McClellan Air Force Base), where I work. One of my co-workers got to tour their facility recently, as a matter of fact. I was jealous.
So, very cool. PG&E is pursuing these projects because of a California state mandate to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Lots more details in the article linked above.
Edited by dana1981 - Fri, 15 Aug 2008 00:49:37 GMT