Solar energy is without a shadow of a doubt, the leader when it comes to renewable energy sources. It seems that the State of California is assuming the mantle of being the new “Sunshine State” in the US with its amazing progress in utilizing solar energy to the optimum level. Even the economic meltdown that hit the country so hard seems to have been a lot kinder to California’s solar march into the future, as it showing no signs of stopping.
Designed by Ausra in mere seven months, the Kimberlina Solar Thermal Plant is the first of its kind in North America. It was built using an array of solar-thermal panels that use a technology called Compact Linear Fresnel Reflectors, that revolutionizes the traditional notion of solar power. With the Fresnel principle, solar energy is converted into thermal energy and that heat is used to turn water into steam. The working from there on is pretty common with the steam producing electrical energy by rotating the turbines.
The plant will utilize 1,000-foot long mirrors to enhance the process and produce 5MW of electricity when at full capacity.
The Bakersfield plant is also a testing prototype for a future 177MW facility set to open in 2010 in San Luis Obispo that will power more than 120,000 homes. For something so grand and involving solar power, it had to be Arnold who cut the ribbon and so he did.
The future sure looks sunny and bright for California! Check out more pictures after the break. – via MSNBC