Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shine on me

While reading a science magazine I normally buy here, I learned that not only do Americans love Spain for flamenco dancing, bull-fighting and sangria and sunny beaches, but that we also appreciate Spain's 340 days of sun a year for solar power.  Let me clarify that those 340 days of glorgous rays are more for the central and southern parts of the country, hence you don't see as many sunny pictures of mine on this blog.  Regardless, it is one of the sunniest countries in the world with the capacity to caputre the sun's energy and use it as a renewable energy.

As the 4th largest manufacturer of solar power technology, I guess it is not surprising that even President Obama is interested.  Turns out, he has big plans for our sunny state of Arizona - and purchased a $1,110,000 project that will produce 250MW of energy.  From the article I am not completely sure if the plant will be exactly the same to the one that recently was opened in Badajoz, Spain, and is listed as the largest solar power plant in the world (just nudging out the USA by 10MW).  With mirrors that oscilate with the movement of the sun, the plant uses the harsh rays to relfect the sunlight to a fluid-filled tube which then heats the liquid to produce steam which runs the turbines.  About the size of 75 football fields, this plant looks like an oasis in the middle of the dry desert.

Spain is not only a contender in solar energy, but also has managed to get a leg up on wind energy.  In the region (State) of Navarra - The Basque Country's neighbor - they already produce 75% of thier energy from wind, solar, hydro and biomass.  The country as a whole boasts 12% of energy from these renewable energies.  The Basque Country (who as I mentioned early has much less sun than the south of Spain) only attributes a little over 5% of its total energy to renewable energies but the hyrdo and wind power sectors are growing rapidly.  Sidenote:  Joseba is a mechanical engineer and often works on pieces of wind power towers that are being used in the Basque Country and even exported around the world!

I don't know where the nearest solar energy site is near you, but maybe next time you think of one, you can remember me and think that 70% of the mirrors used in solar panel energy plants around the world come from Spain, so there is a itty-bitty chance that one of the mirrors once captured my reflection ;)  As they say 'it never rains in the plains of Spain' and I guess bragging about that finally has come up with some good results!


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