Solar Power – Solving the Land Use Problem
Solar power has a ton of momentum these days even taking into account the Great Recession. While it is going gang busters in the residential market, the commercial application always seems to run into one problem – land use. New efforts are being made to get around this and they might just work.
Solar farms have been shown to be highly effective energy producers. They work in different ways, but most focus on producing heat that can be used to turn water into steam. The pressurized steam then turns a turbine, which cranks a generator and produces electricity. This is the same way nuclear and coal electricity generation works, but without all the nasty pollutants and radiation issues.
Given this, why don’t we see more solar farms? Well, there are real land use problems. You need a large number of mirror installations to generate the heat. This takes up a lot of land, which makes the projects very expensive considering the general cost of land these days before even taking into account the cost of building and maintaining the installation.
Given the cost problems, it is hardly a surprise that companies are looking for alternatives. Ironically, a utility company may have come up with the best idea. I say “ironically” because utilities are not often associated with creative ideas. Southern California Edison, however, may have a great one.
The utility has come up with a simple idea that seems to run afoul of no possible parties. The idea is to rent the top of warehouse roofs across the huge industrial areas every city seems to have. The utility then installs a bevy of solar panels on the roofs and wires them into the grid. This effectively turns these vast unused, empty spaces into energy producers. The building owner is happy because it makes some money it otherwise would not have.
All and all, the warehouse roof rental idea seems like a true win-win idea. These days, that is a pretty hard thing to find.