Solar Power Has Its Day

There is Sunday of course which was originally and literally Sun’s day as a vaguely religious observance. Now there is Solar Day which is not so much a day set aside to honor solar (power) but a day to show how solar power has grown and can be used. This is to be June 19th and will be an annual day of recognition for the growth of clean, solar energy. The premise of Solar Day is simple: a national day of recognition for solar energy, energy independence and protection of the planet.

The first annual Solar Day was held in 2009 with only one event — a tour hosted by the city of San Francisco using bio-diesel buses of solar hot water heating systems in the city. It is designed to be held on the weekend closest to the summer’s solstice which is the longest and sunniest day of the year.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in 2009 the solar industry added 441 megawatts of new, clean power to the U.S., pulled in 1.4 billion in new venture capital investments, provided 45,000 jobs and grew by 36% in annual revenue.

NextEra, the largest solar generator in the world, co-owns and operates two solar thermal projects in California — Harper Lake and Kramer Junction — as well as 15 wind farms. The Harper Lake plant, which has been in operation for more than two decades and generates 160 gross megawatts of power, sells electricity to California’s electric utility companies, which are required to use renewable energy to produce 20 percent of their power by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020. NextEra has invested $1.5 billion in power generation assets in California, about $1 billion of that in solar and wind projects.

So yes solar power has indeed grown.

This year Solar Day 2010 events will be held in more than 40 cities so residents can find out about their energy options, solar rebates and ways to reduce the cost of their electricity bills for years to come.

Secretary of the Interior Salazar, noting the Administration’s priority on diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio to include renewable energy, said his department is spurring solar, wind, and geothermal energy development on federal lands in California and around the West as well as on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. “We are cutting bureaucratic red tape; creating strategies to expedite development; prioritizing public lands best suited for renewable energy; and spurring investment with stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

Salazar said there are 9 fast track solar projects and 3 fast track wind projects being reviewed for Interior Bureau of Land Management areas in California. The nine solar projects on fast-track review would be capable of producing more than 4,500 megawatts of power, enough to meet the needs of more than a million homes and provide tens of thousands of jobs.

The Secretary has established Renewable Energy Coordination Offices to help complete reviews on the most ready to go solar, wind and geothermal projects on U.S. public lands. These offices, which work closely with state agencies and private developers to ensure timely review of applications, are processing 53 solar applications covering 445,000 acres and 90 wind applications (71 for testing and 19 for development) covering 876,000 acres.

So the future is bright with the power of the sun.

Article by Andy Soos appearing courtesy Environmental News Network

photo: jurvetson

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