Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things That Make You Go Wow!

How about a little good news for a change.

In the midst of the tragedy playing out on the Gulf Coast, a small California college announced the roll out of an energy saving plan based on some new solar technology.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The sprawling solar installations gobbling up California's deserts have a new competitor, one that claims to generate more energy at lower costs while using less open space.

Known as concentrator photovoltaics, or CPV, the technology is featured in an installation that will be revealed Tuesday at Victor Valley College.

The school's new 1-megawatt plant, on a six-acre dirt plot in Victorville, will provide around 30% of the campus' power.

The $4.5-million facility will be the largest of its kind in North America. The system is expected to pay for itself within five years through energy savings and government incentives, school officials said. ...

Concentrator photovoltaics convert sunlight into electrical energy using the same process as conventional crystalline silicon or thin-film panels. But CPV uses mirrors to concentrate the sun onto tiny high-efficiency solar cells.

The project is being built by SolFocus, Inc., located in Mountain View, California. One of the company's marketing executives explained why their technology is even better than "conventional" photovoltaic systems:

SolFocus is pitching its technology as less disruptive to the environment. The Victorville facility took just two months to build compared with years for other large solar installations. The system also requires relatively little water to keep the panels clean, and 97% of the materials can be recycled, said Nancy Hartsoch, the company's vice president of marketing and sales.

And that's not the end of the story. Victor Valley College intends to use the new facility not only to provide energy to the campus but also to train interested students in photovoltaic technology. The school hopes to expand that mission with a center which includes other forms of renewable energy, including wind energy.

We can overcome our ridiculous dependence of the fossil fuels that are choking us and the planet, and moves like the one taken at Victor Valley College in support of firms like SolFocus are wonderful ways to get us headed in the right direction.

It's been a while since I've been able to smile reading the news. This article hit the spot.

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