June 24, 2010 - FPL's De Soto Next Generation Solar facility; Patriot Renewables and Maine wind

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In past entries, I've looked at FPL's Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will combine solar thermal energy with existing steam boilers to power combined-cycle turbines.  As it turns out, FPL and its NextEra siblings already operate the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in the United States: the 25-megawatt DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. At DeSoto, over 90,500 PV panels are projected to generate about 42,000 megawatt-hours annually, enough power to serve about 3,000 homes.  Over 30 years, the DeSoto facility's generation will decrease fossil-fuel usage by approximately 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 277,000 barrels of oil.  This shift will displace more than 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent of removing more than 4,500 cars from the road every year for the entire life of the project.

How about costs?  The DeSoto facility cost $150 million to construct (and was $22 million under budget).  This translates roughly into a capital cost of 12 cents per kWh over the 30-year lifetime of the plant.

In Maine renewable news, the Lewiston Sun Journal reports that a petition is circulating in Dixfield that asks to leave wind siting decisions to a vote of the townspeople.  The second of two successive six-month moratorium periods will end this fall.  Dixfield wind energy isn't just a hypothetical situation; Massachusetts-based Patriot Renewables LLC has proposed developing the wind energy potential on Colonel Holman Mountain and its surrounding ridges.  Patriot Renewables also has a project proposed in nearby Carthage and Woodstock. (Woodstock and Carthage have both rejected moratoria recently.)  The area is also home to proposed projects by First Wind and Independence Wind in Rumford and Roxbury.  (Thanks to Mike Novello for straightening me out on the projects in this area of Maine.)

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