Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Here comes the's alright

A solar-power project built by a Berkeley company may point Germany toward a pollution-free future. Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went online earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the world. Germany's approach is being closely watched by officials in California and elsewhere as a possible model for developing renewable energy. PowerLight's three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600 silicon-and- aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution. The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with more than 16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is fast closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar energy together provide more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity, a rate that is expected to double by 2020.

Windmills and solar panel farms are considered by many to be a blight on the landscape, but this is at least a step in the right direction. In Germany, any surplus power you generate can be sold back to the utility company at a price 10 times higher than what they sell to you. Read more.
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