“We’re a technology agnostic company. Most of our competitors havedeveloped a certain type of technology and have built companies aroundthat technology.”
Unlike solar thermal and their steam producing energy, photovoltaic farms convertsunlight directly into electricity and are easier to construct. Thedownside is that they are more susceptible to power interruptions should a cloud bank roll in.
Schmidt said that his company plans to mix it up a bit – using both solar troughs and photovoltaic panels at some projects in addition tobuilding some individual photovoltaic power plants, particularly withthe price of photovoltaic panels dropping.
“I think that photovoltaic’s and trough and other technologies are quite compatible. There’s a cost advantage in PV at the utility scale. There will be an oversupply of panels and we’llsee prices as low as we’ve ever seen. The biggest marketplace forutility-scale solar production will be here in the United States.”
Given the price drop, Solar Trust is considering swapping its troughs for panels at its 500 MW Palen Solar Power Plant in California. Green sources report that the Palen project has been licensed but not built, with solar panels. They also report that Solar Trust may do a similar swap at project planned to spring up in the Amargosa Valley.
Solar Trust continues to move forward with solar thermal projects aswell. With the help of a $2.1 billion federal loan guarantee, thecompany has begun work on the first two phases of the Blythe SolarThermal Power Project. Blythe will boast a 1,000 MW “solar trough” – long rows of big parabolic mirrors that focus sunlight on tubes of liquid to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine. Once complete, the Southern California desert dwelling plant will generate as much electricity as a big nuclear power plant.
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