The Renewable Revolution: World's Biggest Solar Farm Is About to Open—Is the End of Oil Near?
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June 13, 2008

The Renewable Revolution: World's Biggest Solar Farm Is About to Open—Is the End of Oil Near?

Solarpanel1 The world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm is strangely beautiful. Fields lined with solar panels tilting sunward seem almost like a massive environmental art project—one with an empowering message to the world. We can find ways to run the world predominantly on clean energy if we choose to. It’s already beginning. By 2020, Portugal plans to generate over a third of its energy from renewables, with that percentage increasing every year.

The farm, located high on the Alantejo Plain near the small town of Mouro, will be twice as large as any other project of its kind. The farm is comprised of 2520 giant solar panels, positioned at a 45 degrees angle to track the sun as it moves across the sky.

Portugal has already made its mark as a world leader in switching to clean energy. Why? Partly because unlike other developed countries, Portugal doesn't have an economy dominated by coal, gas and uranium extraction industries. 

The world's biggest wind farm also lies in Northern Portugal, with more than 130 turbines. Portugal’s plans for wave power are sparking interest around the globe, as well. Currently, the world's first commercial wave farm is being assembled near Porto. These "sea snakes", developed by the Edinburgh-based company Pelamis, will shortly be towed out to sea and will start pumping electricity into the grid later this year.

Portugal is leading the European clean-tech revolution, and economics minister Manuel Pinho hopes that this is just a start. He recently told UK’s Guardian that Portugal looks forward to a potentially giant global investment into clean energy tech.

According to Pinho, “We have to reduce our dependence on oil and gas. What seemed extravagant in 2004 when we decided to go for renewables now seems to have been a very good decision.”

Pinho says Portugal is not interested in nuclear power.

"When you have a program like this there is no need for nuclear power. Wind and water are our nuclear power. The relative price of renewables is now much lower, so the incentives are there to invest. My advice to countries like the UK is to move as fast as they can to renewables. With climate change and the increase in oil prices, renewables will become more and more important.”

He adds, "Countries that do not invest in renewables will pay a high price in future. The cost of inaction is very high indeed. The perception that renewable energy is very expensive is changing every day as the oil price goes up."

Not only that, but experts say that renewable energy has many intangible benefits to human health and the environment. Renewable energy means cleaner skies, waterways and soil, which over time could make all the difference in the world when it comes to the future of humankind.

As far as economics are concerned, advancements in the solar industry have led experts to believe that it will reach grid parity with coal in less than 5 years. If this happens, we'll be seeing a huge shift towards renewable energy. Recently Ray Kurzweil, who has been remarkably accurate with his tech predictions in the past, said he believes that in 20 years 100% of the world’s energy will be from clean and renewable sources.

While that seems almost absurdly optimistic at the present, Kurzweil explained at the recent World Science Festival in New York, that technology is often deceptively exponential. What seems unlikely today will seem completely obvious only a few years from now. Kurzweil backed up his claims at the conference with charts and graphs that showed some of the exponential advancements of the past.

One graph showed how computing power started with the first electromechanical machines over a century ago. Initially they doubled every three years. At mid-century, they began to double every two years, which was the rate that inspired Moore’s Law. It now takes only a year.

Kurzweil believes that renewable energy will follow the same exponential upward trend. While it may seem deceptively slow in the beginning, once the world is behind clean energy in earnest, things will start to happen very, very quickly.

Lets hope he’s right.

Related Galaxy posts:

The World’s First Zero-Emissions City…In the Middle East?
The End of Oil?
Google Prepared to Spend More on Green Energy than U.S. Gov't
Exponential Technologies: Cheer Up World—We Are On the Verge of Great Things
Harnessing the Stars: EU to Attempt Laser-based Fusion
Science + Business = Real Clean Energy Solutions
Quantum Crystals: The Secret to Inexpensive & Efficient Green Energy?
Green Energy -The NexGen Wave is Here

Sources:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/06/renewableenergy.alternativeenergy
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/06/exponential-tec.html

Comments

Please make it and help save our oil; we really need this oil for a very important use, an excellent parasites killer that keeps camels' skin healthy and bugs free during the upcoming global warming years. Germs and parasites flourish in hotter environments.

The article might be a little too optimistic. That 'World Biggest Solar Farm' will actually supply energy to about 30000 homes. Which, at least for me, seems like a very small amount considering the size and investment done.

As of now, solar power needs still a lot of development and I think we will have to wait about 10-15 years to see it playing an important role in energy production.

Its a good start. I agree with Kurzweil completely. It's like the snowball that turns into an avalanche as it picks up more momentum. It will only take one country getting most of their energy from clean and renewable sources, and pretty soon more and more citizens of other nations will start to demand to know why their country can't, or won't, do the same.

Solar tech is still relatively new, but it is making great strides that will make it affordable for average people. Even if the government is addicted to oil money, they can't stop citizens from hooking up solar power to their own residences and buying electric cars. Even giant "good ol' boy" companies like GM have figured it out, and are already preparing to unleash the all-electric Volt on the market in 2012, as well as Nissan and others. All of these things are a step in the right direction.

Pretty soon we won't need oil like we do now, and hopefully we'll have also figured out that corn bio-diesel is another government subsidized fraud. It still pollutes the environment and contributes to world hunger. Portugal is going the smart way with solar, wind and water--these things are clean and don't contribute to world hunger.

Of course, these technologies aren't perfect yet, but they're definitely a step in the right direction. We may as well get things moving sooner rather than later.

It upsets me that environmental devices like solar panels are being used to "develop" natural spaces. Every sloped roof in every house has to be made from solar panels. Cities are ready to be solar farms... or are roofers also lobbying to keep those carpet-like tar shingles on the market?

hey how much is this project going to cost?

Thanks for this nice post...

I am very much pleased with the contents you have mentioned.I wanted to thank you for this great article. I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates.

free solar panels

Solar technology is providing certain facilities which are helpful for average people. Solar power still needs several development and to see its performance we have to wait for some years.

Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies.I like to discuss more about solar energy. Thanks for sharing the information.

Great post and interesting facts about solar energy, you are right we should think beyond what would happen for the next generation. Plan for the world's biggest energy saving.

I really think it is inspiring how Portugl is pushing for more solar power. Now, if only we could get our own nation to really fall in love with solar power...


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