Did “The Solar Age” begin in Spain in March 2007?
When I wrote in December 2008 (see reference below) claiming that, “The Solar Age has Begun!” was I, like Frank Schuman a century earlier, jumping the gun?
Last week I wrote about the building from 1984 – 1990 of the excellent SEGS at Kramer Junction, which was followed by more wasted decades. So why might it be different this time? Climate Change, Peak Oil and improvements to solar technologies are three good reasons. Also now the evidence of widespread uptake is rapidly gathering.
In 2008 I claimed that “The Solar Age” had begun in the spring of 2007. In March the 11 Mw solar power tower PS10 opened in Seville, Spain. Then in June the 64 Mw parabolic trough Nevada Solar One opened near Las Vegas, USA. Two small power stations do not constitute an epochal shift unless they are the forerunners of countless others.
Since PS10 opened in March 2007 the Spanish solar industry has made tremendous progress. If one looks at this list of solar power stations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_thermal_power_stations what is so impressive is that in just 3 years they have opened a second solar power tower, the PS20, a tiny Fresnel reflector system and half a dozen 50 Mw parabolic trough power stations and have another 37 x 50Mw trough systems under construction plus single smaller trough, power tower and dish systems. The Spanish work in units of 50 Mw as an upper limit to benefit from the feed-in-tariff, but group the units together, so for example Andasol 1 was completed in 2008, Andasol 2 in 2009, Andasol 3 and 4 are under construction and units 6 and 7 have been announced. This represents a serious roll-out of the technology. Spain is the only country to have achieved this and their companies are now world leaders. Perhaps as the “Fossil Fuel Age” can be said to have begun in the UK and in 1769 with James Watt’s stream engine, so “The Solar Age” may just have begun in Spain in March 2007 with PS10.
Next week: Current Global Solar Developments.