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Model – Solar cities and countries

Posted in Models, Movements, Visions by fedwards on May 18th, 2007

Cities of the future may rely upon a great deal of their energy from the sun. Over the last few months there have been increasing incentives and rising credibility in solar power as solar farms sprout up in Spain and the Silicon Valley, USA and South Korea, as technologies improve and as China emerges as a cheap, large-scale producer of photovoltaics.

In Spain, Europe’s first commercial concentrating solar power plant has opened near Seville. The solar farm has taken four years to build and has cost 35 million pounds (funded by the EU) and is estimated to general 11 megawatts of electricity during the day – enough to power around 11,000 homes. Visit The Ecologist website.

Hot on the heels of Spain, OptiSolar, a Californian company, has released plans to build the largest solar farm in North America, based in Silicon Valley. The farm will generate an estimated 10 – 15,000 homes on sunny days. It is estimated to be completed by 2010. Visit the VentureBeat website for more details.

The South Korean government plans to generate 10 per cent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. The new plant, to be based in the town of Shinan, will feature 109,000 solar modules covering an area the size of 80 football fields, will track the sun during the day to enable the generation of up to 20 megawatts of electricity. The panels will supply between 6,000 and 7,000 households, saving some 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. The initiative, due to be completed by the end of 2008, will complement South Korea’s other power-generating plant from tidal power plant, which is due for completion in 2009 and is estimated to generate 812 megawatts of electricity. Click here for more details.

New technologies such as thin-film solar panels cut the amount of silicon used in panels. According to the recent WorldWatch report, “many companies are producing thin-film solar technologies that cut the amount of silicon used in panels. Thin-film could grab a 20 per cent share of the market by 2010, up from 7 per cent of the market in 2006″.

The cost barrier to solar power production could be overcome as more than a dozen companies in Europe, China, Japan and the United States use this technology to boost production and lower costs. China passed the United States last year to become the world’s third largest producer of solar panels, with possibilities to further increase production in the next few years.

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