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Environment

Solar No Longer a Joke

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A California company, OptiSolar, is teaming up with Pacific Gas & Electric to build a solar energy plant near San Luis Obispo, CA, that will produce more energy than all the extant solar plants in the US put together.

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That still isn't as much as one would like. At peak sunlight, it'll generate as much power as a coal plant or a small nuclear plant. But since it isn't always peak sunlight out, all told it will generate about a third of what a coal plant would. Let's not get depressed here. Utilities just need to build a ton more of them. An example of the private sector finally stepping up and displaying serious environmental stewardship? Christ no. PG&E is doing this because they're desperately trying to meet California's unusually demanding state green laws, which ask utilities to draw at least 20% of their power from renewable sources by a deadline in 2010. PG&E may well still fail to meet it, as the solar panels might not be fully operational until 2011. Companies aren't going to stop pretending market-based solutions are the way to get them to do good things. But this latest development should be deployed by enviros as a rhetorical weapon to establish tougher laws that bludgeon them into doing more. This just isn't going to be a voluntary process. Coercion is green.

Image: flickr/mararie

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