|Nevada No. 2 in Solar Power Development|
By John G. Edwards
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Thanks to two giant solar projects, Nevada ranked second only to
California in solar power development last year, the Solar Energy
Industry Association said.
The two generators were the 64-megawatt Nevada Solar One project at
Boulder City and the 14-megawatt solar panel array installed at
Nellis Air Force Base last year. Together, the solar projects added
78.6 megawatts in solar-generation capacity for Nevada last year
while 87.1 megawatts were added for California. The trade group did
not have figures for total capacity in the two states.
Photovoltaic systems, like those installed at Nellis, rely on
silicon panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar thermal
plants like Nevada Solar One use the heat of the sun to boil a
liquid that creates steam to spin electricity-generating turbines.
The prospect of selling electricity from solar thermal plants to
California and other surrounding states represents a big opportunity
for Nevada, said Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the solar energy trade group.
"You're poised to be a net exporter of solar energy," Hanis said
Monday. "Nevada is just poised for tremendous growth."
Ausra of Palo Alto, Calif., is building a concentrating solar power
manufacturing plant near McCarran International Airport. It will use
the facility to build solar power components for its own projects
and for those of competitors.
Nationally, 245 megawatts of solar power were installed last year.
Concentrating solar rose 18 percent with the completion of Nevada
Solar One, the first utility-scale plant of that type since 1991.
Photovoltaic systems that are linked to utility grids grew by 45
percent to 750 megawatts. Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Best
Buy, Safeway and Home Depot placed photovoltaic systems on their rooftops.
Around the country, another 4,000 megawatts of concentrating solar
power were announced last year, enough to power 1 million
households. The total includes the 280-megawatt concentrating solar
power that Abengoa of Spain plans to build for Arizona Public Service.
Analysts attribute solar energy growth partially to tax credits,
which end this year. Three pieces of legislation now pending in
Congress, however, would extend the credit for several years. Sen.
John Ensign, R-Nev., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., pushed action
on an amendment that would extend tax credits for solar energy,
along with wind, geothermal, hydroelectric power and fuel cells. It
is part of the Housing Stimulus Bill, which the Senate passed by a
vote of 88-8 on April 10.