New record solar energy peak of over 1,000 MW on August 14, 2012

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Solar energy is becoming increasingly trendy for many businesses and homeowners around the world. And although the industry is relatively new, observers say it’s making great strides in popularity and performance.

According to New York Times blogger, Felicity Barringer, California’s utility-scale solar generating stations combined to put out the same amount of energy (one gigawatt) as a substantial nuclear or coal-fired power plant. That moment occurred sometime in Mid-August between 5 and 6 p.m., coinciding with peak demand.

She also quotes a report commissioned by the Solar Energy Industries Association, which was released this week. Apparently, the number of megawatts installed in the second quarter of this year was around 742, more than double the 343 megawatts installed in the first quarter of 2011. That same report also showed that the U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. That’s apparently enough to power one million homes.

California boasts more than one-third of new solar installations. Barringer reports that daily solar power production represents only 1 percent of total demand.

However, there are more solar installations popping up across the state. BrightSource Energy is constructing a plant in Ivanpah in the Mojave Desert. That’s just west of the Nevada-California border. It is reportedly more than half finished and will generate 392 megawatts of power when it comes online.

Meanwhile, Barringer notes, a 100-megawatt plant planned in Henrietta, California drew closer to reality last week. Pacific Gas & Electric, the dominant utility in Northern California, announced that it had agreed to buy power from the facility.

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