Solar Energy in Palo Alto, 80MW at 6.9 cents/Kilowatt Hour

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Palo Alto is generally referred to as the heart of Silicon Valley. In a newer trend, Palo Alto is now part of a municipal utility that got 80 MW in solar purchase agreements. The idea is to use the solar power purchase agreements to cover around 18% of the city’s load. It would be able to provide power to around 65,000 residents in the area.

There has been a lot of focus as of late on green affordable homes, along with focus on relevant domestic items in the residencies. Water boosters that are efficient, insulation that reduces consumption costs and other eco-friendly devices are growing in a number of households.

This all being said, the real headline of the agreement is the price, which is merely 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The rates are completely comparable with those of the traditional market ones and natural gas or wind based tariffs.

The three main projects in the area are the Elevation project (Fresno County), Western Antelope project (LA County) and the Frontier Project (Stanislaus County). The first project proposed to produce 40 MW while the other two are designated for 20 MW productions.

According to the federal information available, the solar plants have been made on sites that have been classified as ‘distressed agricultural land’.

Another interesting point to note is that the city has the target to achieve 100% carbon free power from this set up. The solar panels at such affordable rates are a commendable initiative.

The three solar projects that have been mentioned earlier are expected to be effective by 2017. When they start working, Palo Alto would have generated approximately half of its energy from renewables.

Three Quick Questions: Solar Panels

As far as the economics of the idea is concerned, this would cost the tax payer around $3/year which is deemed as sustainable. This also includes the cost for being completely carbon neutral.

In terms of calculations, the renewable contracts are in range of 0.11 cents per kilowatt hour as compared to conventional generation. These calculations can be adjusted over the years for parameters like time of delivery, transmission costs and also the capacity value.

This project would be the lowest in terms of cost for renewable energy for Palo Alto and also comparable with other states too.

The report has also affected the market performance of solar stocks in a positive manner. The number of installation in terms of solar units has increased in number of states. For instance, in California, the number has increased from 216 in 2010 to 1,033 in 2012 according to a research. This applies for both residential and non-residential.

In addition to this, technology is focusing on not only improving the efficiency of the panels, but also the cost. The application of nanotechnology is increasing the quality of the panels, and with better performance of the stocks, more money can be placed into research and development.

The tax incentives and affordable loans are already in place for people to convert their homes with focus on being green efficient. The aim is to reduce the carbon foot print and Palo Alto’s efforts target a bright future ahead.

Samantha Peters Avatar

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