January 2008

Solar technology impresses

California has the sun, and Ausra Inc. has the technology.

 The result will mean 177 megawatts of emissions free electricity for the state's grid. PG&E supplies electricity to the area and this solar thermal deal is part of the company's renewable energy plan.

Ausra's new Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector solar technology utilizes the heat from the sun's rays to create steam. Reflectors automatically track the sun to render the most energy possible. 

Solar collectors boil water at high temperatures to power steam turbine generators, in much the same way as traditional fossil-fuel power plants, but without use of fuels or emissions. 

Ausra projects the power plant will create over 350 skilled jobs on-site during construction, and an additional 100 permanent jobs in the area. The plant will burn no fuel, use minimal water, and have no air or water emissions. 

The project will use only one square mile (640 acres) of land, due to the exceptional area efficiency of Ausra's collector technology. 

California's initiative to reduce carbon emissions, AB 32, encourages companies to undertake these sorts of projects. California leads the U.S. in clean energy research, development, and generation.

At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in September, PG&E and Ausra announced separate commitments to build and purchase 1,000 MW of solar thermal power over the next five years.