Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
SCHOOL DELAYS

Report sorts out which solar technology requires more space

A federal report released this week resolved an obscure argument: Which large-scale solar technology requires the most land?

The inside-baseball question is common among solar power developers. Those who espouse solar thermal technology frequently point out that their "power tower" plants require less land than a large photovoltaic facility using solar panels.

The Energy Department report affirms that, but found little appreciable difference between the two technologies' footprints.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., found that a utility-scale photovoltaic plant generating enough electricity for 1,000 homes requires 32 acres of land, or an average of 3.7 acres per annual gigawatt-hour, the report said.

Concentrating solar plants — often a field of mirrors that focus sunlight to heat a central tower — require about 3.5 acres per annual gigawatt-hour, according to the report.

By the end of last year, more than 2.1 GW of utility-scale solar power generating equipment had been installed in the U.S. and the study looked at data from 72% of those projects.

Most of the solar power plants in the West are situated on public land.

@julie_cart

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Climate change woes already widespread in California, study says
    Climate change woes already widespread in California, study says

    California is feeling the effects of climate change far and wide as heat-trapping greenhouse gases reduce spring runoff from the Sierra Nevada, make the waters of Monterey Bay more acidic and shorten winter chill periods required to grow fruit and nuts in the Central Valley, a new report says.

  • NIH gives Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells new protections
    NIH gives Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells new protections

    More than half a century ago, doctors took Henrietta Lacks' tissue and used it for research without her permission, creating the first immortal line of cells and making possible billions of dollars in medical research. Now, 62 years later, the National Institutes of Health has struck an...

Comments
Loading