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Saturday, April 25, 2015

HAWAII: #1 IN SOLAR ENERGY

Recently, Rifle, Colorado, at 325 watts/person, proudly announced that it was #1 in solar energy.  Turns out that the city government installed a 3 MW solar PV system, and, with a population of less than 10,000, it suddenly did become #1...of minor American cities.   The photo at the left was taken in 2011 and represents 0.858 MW.  Here is a more recent shot of their Clean Energy Collective: (hmm, looks the same to me)


About who is #1, if an isolated mansion for one person installed a 10 kW solar power array, it would then be rated at 10,000 watts/person, or 30 times that of Rifle.  Take the concentrated solar power facility at Ivanpah. rated at 392 MW (or 392,000 kw or 302,000.000 watts), the largest of its kind in the world.  As far as I can tell, Ivanpah is a Ghost Town, with a population of zero, so the w/person is infinity.  Critical articles have appeared using terms like death ray.  So let me quote:

While some have exaggerated claims about bird impacts, in fact, Ivanpah reported only 321 avian fatalities in this post construction analysis between January and June 2014, of which 133 were related to solar flux.  When considering the impact our technology has on birds passing through the concentrated sunlight, or solar flux, it is important to keep in mind the leading annual causes of bird deaths include 1.4-3.7 billion birds being killed by cats, as many as 980 million birds crash into buildings, 174 million birds die from power lines and up to 340 million birds perish from vehicles/roads. 

But returning to who is #1 for per capita solar, Hawaii is #1 for major cities with 265 watts/person.  #2 is San Jose with 97 w, Wilmington at 96 w and San Diego 81 w.  However, as much as we are dwarfing all other cities, the future is in doubt:


Why has there been a decline?  Hawaiian Electric Industries is worried about grid stability.  According to former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu:  this is "another  bullshit argument."  The situation could, however, get worse, for about the most chintzy utility in the USA regarding residential PV is  NextEra of Florida, which is in the process of purchasing HEI.  But this might not be all that bad for Hawaii ratepayers, for NextEra has data to show that centralized solar farms are more cost effective than home installations.  They will support solar, but only those production sites they can control.

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