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Industrial Scale Solar Power

By James Hull

Significant solar power plant projects are being considered in locations like California and New Mexico where there is significant sunshine. It is therefore reasonable to consider the overall effectiveness and practicality of solar power plants on a large scale. How much can solar power be used to provide for America’s energy base?

The proposed answer is simple. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar solar power stations can not create the output of a fossil fuel power station. The energy locked up in combustible fuels such as coal, natural gas, and diesel is enormous. As long as carbon based fuels can be obtained at inexpensive price points they will continue to keep the largest marketshare for many years to come.

Combustible fuels are simply solar energy stored up millenia before so you don’t have to think of them as unnatural or bad. Without fossil fuels we would have no way to support our industrial base and would be without out many of our modern technologies.

Most of our comforts and commercial activities are founded on several industries. This foundation includes the mining of ores from the Earth, and the manufacturing of raw materials such as aluminum, iron, steel, copper, and more. It includes manufacturing plants for automobiles, airplanes, tools, machinery, advanced electronics, and just about every other gizmo we use on a regular basis. It also includes large machinery required for harvesting lumber and other agricultural products.

Simply put we use a lot of electricity in our regular daily lives. This energy consumption is the foundation of our economy and our way of life and it is supported by burning fossil fuels.

Here lies the basic problem with large solar power stations. They cannot supply enough energy to support America’s industrial base. This does not mean they are irrelevant or undesireable. It simply means that solar power systems are much more in tune for residential and small scale commercial applications, where energy is consumed on a more moderate basis.

A 500 MW fossil fuel power plant can squeeze into a relatively small area of a quarter square mile without much challenge. When considering a photovoltaic solar power plant, nearly 1,140 acres (almost 2 square miles) of solar panels would have to be installed to equal this same capacity. This is 2 square miles of nothinig but solar panels, not even allowing for maintenance access roads and other maintenance space. Considering solar panels make peak power with the peak sunshine of the day then when you compare apples to apples we only get a quarter of the total output with more than eight times the space!

In locations that make sense, we need to include solar power solutions as part of our energy portfolio. Our modern combustion technologies deserve recognition. Modern technology in combustion power plants create clean and efficient power with very high reliability 24 hours a day. The highly concentrated energy source of fossile fuels is simply too great to ignore as it relates to powering America’s industrial base.

Learn more about solar power. Stop by Jim’s site where you can find out all about solar power and what it can do for you.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Hull, James "Industrial Scale Solar Power." Industrial Scale Solar Power. 17 Aug. 2010. 1 Oct 2016 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Hull, J (2010, August 17). Industrial Scale Solar Power. Retrieved October 1, 2016, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Hull, James "Industrial Scale Solar Power"

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