Can Nevada Become U.S. Solar Development Mecca?
There may be no better way to turn around a struggling state economythan by promoting renewable energy jobs. So goes the collective mindsetof Nevada Senator Harry Reid and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, as they announced yesterday a plan to bring a solar thermal testing siteto the state of Nevada. Construction of the site is set to begin in 2011 and bring thousands of long- and short- term jobs to the state, whichcurrently has a 14 percent unemployment rate, according toCSMonitor.com.- Home foreclosures, another economic barometer, are high, too: one in every 79 homes are in foreclosure, according to fox5vegas.
The desert laboratory for testing new solar technologies is scheduled to be built on 25 square miles of the same test site used by the U.S.Government in the 1950’s to test the nation’s nuclear capabilities. Thearea stands approximately 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. According to several government officials, who spoke to the Las Vegas Sun,the majority of the testing will focus on developing new solar thermaltechnologies.
This type of solar power setup entails using mirrors to direct thesun’s rays onto a liquid-filled tube or tower. The heat boils theliquid, creating steam that turns a turbine. Much of the new technologydeveloped will focus on creating better ways to store the heat andreduce water consumption.
The testing facility is expected to allow the U.S. to develop andmarket new solar technology at a faster rate, with the end goal being to drive prices down, which is a key igredient to the widespread adoptionof renewable energy. And if solar is a large part of that renewableenergy future, what better place to make the epicenter of it all, saysReid, than Nevada with its 300+ sunny days a year.
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