Solar Energy Is An Industry on the Rise-President Obama Agrees!

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Dear Friends and Readers,

This week, on Wednesday (March 21, 2012),  President Obama made his first stop at the Boulder City (about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas), Nevada,  at Copper Mountain Solar 1 during his two-day energy tour, drawing attention to the ever expanding solar industry and to take on anti-solar lobby.  During President Obama’s speech at Boulder City, he reaffirmed his commitment to an “all the above” approach to domestic energy production and refer to the solar energy sector as an “industry on the rise”. President Obama’s speech at Copper Mountain Solar 1, below:


There is good reason why Copper Mountain Solar 1 was selected to be the first stop for President’s two day energy tour.  The Copper Mountain Solar Facility is a 48 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic power plant in Boulder City, Nevada. Sempra Generation built the plant from Jan., 2010 to Dec., 2010 at  a cost of about $141 million.  When the facility entered service, it was the largest photovoltaic plant in the U.S. (the previous record holder for the largest U.S. solar power plant was the 20 MW DeSoto PV plant in Arcadia, FL).  At its construction peak more than 350 workers were installing the 775,000 First Solar panels on the 450 acre site. An expansion of the facility by more than 200 MW was approved in 2010.  On August 4, 2011, Sempra announced a plan to expand the facility by 92 MW to be online in January of 2013 and another 58 MW to be added by 2015.  The power from Copper Mountain Solar and Sempra Generation’s adjacent 10 MW El Dorado Solar plant has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under separate 20 year power purchase agreement.

  • Solar 1 is the original 48 MW 1st phase with an expansion
  • Solar 2 is the under construction 150 MW phase 2
  • Solar 3 is a proposed 220 MW phase 3

When President Obama visited the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Nevada Wednesday, he had a first-hand look at the first large-scale facility equipped with solar forecasting devices called the sky imagers.  Sky imagers are essentially fish-eye lenses that capture a 360-degree view of the horizon and generate a 3-D model of the clouds being observed.  This device is connected to a sophisticated forecasting system that uses what it observes to predict solar output in 15-minute increments.  Sky imagers and their algorithms are the brain child of Jan Kleissl,

Professor Jan Kleissl of UC San Diego. Credit:UC San Diego

an environmental engineering professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.  Earlier this month Professor Kleissl’s research and solar forecasting at UC San Diego received $1.5 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC);he is the principal investigator on the grant with another professor of environmental engineering at the Jacobs School Carlos Coimbra This grant funds research to refine forecasting methods and work with San Diego Gas & Electric to help integrate solar power to the energy grid. In addition to the CPUC funding, the project is receiving matching funds from SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the California Energy Commission and the Department of Energy. “As California continues to integrate higher amounts of solar energy into the grid, demonstration projects like these will maximize the value of solar energy by providing predictable generation profiles that grid operators can rely on,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. The two researchers/scientists and their teams plan on developing comprehensive forecast models that predict solar power output based on how much sunlight can be found at a specific location and how it fluctuates.  Their sensor network now extends beyond San Diego to include many sites along the Pacific Rim, from Bellingham, Washington, to Oahu, Hawaii. This type of forecasting projects could reduce unpredictability of solar power and potentially generate significant savings for utility companies.

One thing to be certain, there are much work and opportunities in solar sector waiting to be discovered, for entrepreneurs, academic researchers and scientists, and homeowners and  renters alike.  As long as we continue to be optimistically active, there’s much needing to be done!

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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