By Dr. John Gilmore
In the Spanish countryside, a strange sight rises from the landscape: a massive concrete tower surrounded by glowing beams of light. That tower may hold the key to a clean-energy future. The 40-story concrete tower is surrounded by four massive arrays of 600 mirrors each, all designed to track the sun on its path across the sky and beam the light back at the tower. Right now only one of the arrays is completed and functional, but construction is continuing on the other three. The Solar Tower, designed and built by Spanish energy company Solucar, generates 11 megawatts of energy–enough to power over 6,000 homes–without emitting any greenhouse gases or pollutants.
At present there are plans to create several large solar power plants in the Mojave desert to supply energy for more than 140,000 homes in line with Governor Swarzenegger and CA’s plan to increase the use of green energy creation to 33% by 2020. This is the first solar energy project of its size in the last 20 years to break ground. In Pennsylvania representatives have been trying to move the state legislature to increase the use of solar energy to 3% by the year 2020. They aren’t having any success. The couldn’t even get our legislators to increase to 1.5%. My question, “What is going on in PA?” Building these solar plants create new jobs, create clean renewable energy, and will help us reduce our carbon foot print. Could it be that in this state, one that is loaded with coal and Marsella shale, that there is no incentive to do so? One might argue that we don’t have a desert here in PA, so we cannot build a plant, but in Spain they have created a cement structure where they are collecting solar energy. We can do it. The question shouldn’t be how to mine coal, frag gas, and flood millions of gallons of water through shale by doing the least damage, or how we can dispose of radioactive and contaminated waste water–millions of gallons of it, that occur from all these operations, it should be how to reduce the need for fossil fuels and become independent of it as soon as possible.