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Nation’s Fourth-Largest Solar Power Plant to Break Ground in Falls Township, PA

As the heat wave in Southern California continues to stress the local power grid, I thought this news out of Pennsylvania was particularly timely. Germany-based Conergy AG will build a $20 million solar power plant in Falls Township, which is just across the Delaware River from Trenton (where some important green projects are already taking place). The Exelon-Epuron Solar Energy Center, as the facility will be called, will employ 17,000 PV panels in order to generate 3,700 megawatts of electricity annually- enough to power 400 homes. Conergy’s U.S. subsidiary Epuron will fund the project, whose output will be purchased for the next twenty years by Exelon Generation, the Chicago-based parent of Philadelphia’s Peco Energy. SunTechnics Energy Systems, Inc., another Conergy subsidiary, is designing and installing the system. Although Pennsylvania is not funneling any financing to the project, Governor Rendell called it “just the tip of the  iceberg” in terms of the state’s alternative energy initiatives. Last year, the Pennsylvania legislature mandated that state utilities must offer at least eight percent of their power from renewable sources, with .05 percent of that power coming from solar sources.

3 Responses to Nation’s Fourth-Largest Solar Power Plant to Break Ground in Falls Township, PA

  1. baddriver September 5, 2007 at 2:54 am #

    3700 megawatt/HOURS is a lot different than 3700 megawatts. I first read that and was thinking holy crap thats a ton of solar since the average nuclear plant produces a peak output of 600-1200 megawatts. In the NJ area the KW/H factor is about 1000-1100 per year greater than the peak output. So this puts the solar plant at approximately 3.5 MW peak output. That is the scale of similar large solar generation projects I’ve heard of.

  2. Stephen September 5, 2007 at 4:30 pm #

    Thanks for your comment and the great points of comparison. I’m not that well-versed in the technology behind solar power and I’m curious whether future facilities will ever approach the scale of generation that a nuclear plant can produce- any thoughts?

  3. baddriver September 6, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    According to wikipedia, Nevada Solar One is the world’s 3rd largest solar power plant at 64 megawatts. The largest is in spain at 350 MW. Quite impressive compared with nuclear power plants (about 1/2 to 1/4 the output of nuclear). So it seems that large-scale solar is feasible. Keep in mind these large scale plants are solar thermal collector type, not photovoltaic. Photovoltaic is still the simplest choice for smaller scale solar projects like homes and buildings.

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