Thursday, March 27, 2008

Solar farms in our urban desert

Interstate 15
Originally uploaded by digitonin.
Hurrah! Southern California Edison is going to be installing solar panels on large roofs near me, according to today's LA Times and the New York Times.

So finally somebody paid attention to what I've been saying!
The Ontario airport mentioned in the NYT article is my local airport. (This area was developed about 130 years ago by a couple of brothers from Ontario who happened to know about mathematics - our Main Street is called Euclid - and water - so that even in Southern California we use a very high percentage of ground water.)

But the main reason for building Ontario was the train lines from LA and Long Beach harbor to the East, so that all our citrus could be shipped back East as our Christmas oranges (I grew up in New Jersey.)

Nowadays the area is crisscrossed with what we call Freeways, like Interstate 10, known by Americans all across the South, and 15, which goes from San Diego to Las Vegas and beyond.

So we have become a shipping hub. Trucks bring containers full of stuff from the harbors (which most likely came from China) to warehouses here, from which they are sent by either air, train or truck to further destinations East or North.
And those warehouses are enormous - many acres of lovely flat roofs, perfect for whole experimental solar farms that need many acres. Looking down from a plane while landing at the airport, all you see are those enormous roofs. Looking north, however, you see our lovely mountains of the Angeles National Forest, and looking south and west you may see the Pacific, all the way to Catalina!

I'm reading Environmental Defense head, Fredd Krupp's new book Earth: The Sequel, where the first 2 chapters are devoted to solar. He talks about a lot of grand schemes to build solar farms in the Mojave desert (one of which is mentioned in the LATimes article linked above,) but of the difficutlies with transmission lines (partly that electricity dissipates during transmission, and partly that they have to go through protected natural areas.)

All that will be solved by using all those roofs to build solar farms on. And the users are right here in one of the most highly built-up areas in the country.

And I won't even claim my part in thinking this up. I'm just delighted that the next time I take a plane (if there are any left to take!) that I'll be looking down at solar installations instead of bare flat roofs!

No comments: