One Day Tour of the Original Solar Power Plant

Sun Day

Three hundred MW capacity? Yawn.

A two GW solar farm planned in China? Puh-LEEZ.

[Sorry, but I had to replace the soundtrack due to copyright issues. If you prefer the original music 1) mute the sound on the video above and 2) play the video below with the sound on. The music is Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, #1, BWV 988.]

Now this baby is da bomb (I know that dates me, but if you saw my recent twitter picture, there are no surprises left.)

The sun is so generous, especially here in the Southwest, that we take it for granted. But even during a decades-long Iowa sojourn, when gray winter weeks passed without a glimpse of the sun, I knew it was there, somewhere beyond the clouds – and that it would return.

Last summer I was covering the House debate on the Waxman-Markey climate bill and was shocked (naively) to hear a member of Congress profess that all the energy we need is right here — just beneath our feet: COAL!

What a maroon. “Look up!” I wanted to shout. “That bright thing there in the sky? That’s the energy source that created coal in the first place. It’s the reason some people in coal country refer to that rock as ‘buried sunshine.’ We can just skip that middle period — the 300 million years it took for all that vegetation to be converted to coal — and use the energy directly from the sun.”

At any rate, I find images of the sun seductive and compelling. It’s like staring into a camp fire. Come to think of it, there’s a good reason for the similarity. The sun is the original fire. We’ve been orbiting the sun for billions of years, as if the planet itself is mesmerized by the giant ball of flames.

So take a good look at the energy source of the future. The sun: Providing energy to earth for 4.57 billion years.*

*Runner-up motto: Because a day without sunshine is like a day without sunshine.

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