Thursday, March 27, 2008

California utility to spread 'solar power plant' across rooftops

I've written about similar ideas before, namely that there is a lot of land area containing large warehouse-style buildings that have flat roofs. These buildings could then have roof-top solar panels. There is breaking news (links below) that Southern California Edison is launching a program to install solar panels on commercial rooftops

The program calls for SCE to put enough solar photovoltaic panels on commercial buildings to turn out 250 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply about 162,000 homes....Once completed, the panels will take up 65,000,000 square feet of roofs in Southern California, or 2 square miles.

The $875 million initiative also marks the first big move into so-called distributed energy by a major utility. Instead of building a centralized power station and the expensive transmission system needed to transmit electricity to the power grid, Edison will connect clusters of solar arrays into existing neighborhood circuits. A significant hurdle for the massive megawatt solar power plants planned for California’s Mojave Desert is the need in some cases to build multi billion-dollar transmission systems through environmentally sensitive lands to bring the electricity to coastal metropolises....Here’s how the solar roofs initiative will work: Edison will lease warehouse rooftop space from building owners. (The target area is the fast-growing “Inland Empire” of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.) The utility will contract for the installation of the arrays and will retain ownership of the solar systems. California regulators appear inclined to approve the project, which will be financed by a hike in utility rates.

Anybody who drives through modern industrial or office parks knows that there are vast expanses of rooftop space available. As I pointed out in my earlier posting on solar roof tops it's even easier to see this using or other online map services.

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