Coming to rooftops near you: 65 million square feet of solar panels

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Mar• 28•08

My prophesy: Someday nearly all commercial, residential and municipal buildings will have solar panels and we'll wonder why it took us so long to do that.I’d rather see solar panels on my rooftop and yours, but this is still pretty cool.

A project has been proposed that will place photovoltaic cells on 65 million square feet of commercial building roofs in Southern California.

The cells will generate as much as 250 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 162,500 average homes — based on an estimate that 1 megawatt would serve about 650 average homes. Wow!

The plan, the largest rooftop solar installation project ever proposed by a utility company in the country, was announced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Southern California Edison, according to a story in the L.A. Times.

This could "set off a huge wave of renewable-energy growth," said Schwarzenegger

And you know what that means? Typically when there is more demand for technology, the price drops. And that means affordable home systems could be coming our way sooner rather than later.

The first of the solar rooftops, in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, is expected to be up and producing electricity by August.

Another project recently announced proposes to place a 250-megawatt plant, dubbed the Beacon Solar Energy Project, on about 2,000 acres in eastern Kern County.

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29 Comments

  1. Solar revolution is here to stay for a while due to willingness by consumers, industries to adopt to clean energy. The manufacturing capacity is being built in a never seen extent.
    As suppliers start competing & improving product efficiency and quality, the costs will start coming down.
    If you are interested in knowing cost estimates for Solar, Biomass or other renewable energy projects, please visit http://www.Energy-Guru.com.

  2. Allen D. Hoffmann says:

    Alternatives will apear when they honestly work. Solar cell technolgy is here and increased manufacture will bring the cost down thru innovation. Now what’s needed is an electric car that seats 4 has a range of 200 miles and enough scoot to be safe and cost comperable to an econo car.

  3. Tim Osman says:

    And why doesn’t Phoenix and Las Vegas follow suit?

  4. BADGER BADGERISM says:

    ummm, why are they just now doing this
    this should have, could have been done long ago

  5. Mike S says:

    I agree with the sentiment or previous posters that while this is very very good, it should have happened while Jimmy Carter was president or at least Reagan, and it should be happening in a heck of a lot more places.
    But this is some very good news and probably a direct result of increasing oil prices. I’m happy to pay more for gas and food if we can stop burning oil to create energy and propel our cars, it’s so foolish! Think of all of the pollution, wars, and obvious energy alternatives that have been ignored for far too long.
    I keep hoping to see us driilling geothermal plants, but I guess that is just too good of a source to use yet, we haven’t made every mistake possible on the way there.

  6. Gleno says:

    “I’d rather see solar panels on my rooftop and yours, but this is still pretty cool.”
    Me too.
    Solar power gives every household the ability to be free from the power utilities for ever and never receive another power bill. That technology is available now.
    However, you will only see Government green energy initiatives that keep you dependent on the supply utilities.

  7. Yes! Awesome to see initiatives like this, there is also the thin film panels developed by Dr Vivian Alberts from South Africa http://solarusa.org/Alberts.html

  8. Joe Freeman says:

    I read an article years ago that mentioned the fact that there are approxiamtely 4000 patents that have been classified as national security secrets and a fair number of them involve energy devices that were deemed too threatening to the status quo. It’s time to investigate through the use of the Freedom of Information Act to determine how many involve novel energy technologies and lobby our pols to release these for civilian development and the creation of whole new industires, jobs, wealth, and environmental enhancements etc.

  9. brifar says:

    it is foolish to commit large capital to emerging tech. everything now available in this field will be obsolete within five years . see recent issues of physics review etc..
    brifar.

  10. Jason says:

    It should of been done long ago ,except…it is only recent they are making solar cells that last more than 5 years. Solar cell are expensive and only now the prices are beganing to drop to an affordable range and are lasting over 10 to 20 years. ;)

  11. Susan D. Nimitz says:

    Your country is history — and good riddance, so long as it does not take the rest of us down with it — so you might as well propose a few last programs, and the better they sound, well, the BETTER =)
    Good luck.

  12. Ron Baron says:

    Hopefully they are using U.S. manufactured panels.

  13. Zip says:

    i cant wait for fusion power!!

  14. Brad says:

    Does no one know that it requires more power to produce a solar panel than it will produce in its 20 year projected life?
    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    KPR: Brad, perhaps you didn’t hear about the recent study by Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. which concluded that “today’s solar panels can ‘pay back’ in only 1 to 3 years the energy needed to make them.”
    You can read about it here: http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20080301/fob5.asp
    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  15. Gary says:

    I saw stories like this in Denver when I lived there in the 1970′s. It was expensive then and will remain so.

  16. farang says:

    Mike S:
    If you are old enough to remember, it was Carter that implemented a program to reduce our oil imports through alternative energy sources, and in point of fact, the last two years of his term America actually decreased it’s oil imports, the only time that happened in our history.
    THE ONLY TIME.
    And of course, that brain-addled fella that followed him immediately ended that program.
    You owe Jimmy a BIG apology.
    Educate yourself before maligning the best president we have had for a LONG time.

  17. namerequired says:

    Almost all issues in politics and money can be traced to this one problem. The single most important reason why making changes toward a better world has been difficult:
    This is an attempt to state it simply, because if you understand the problem, then you’re going to see the solution clearly as well. If it doesn’t make sense the first time you read it, try reading it again. Eventually, the whole picture will sink in…
    A quick history of money
    1) Once, gold and silver were considered the only ”real” money, but it was heavy and risky to carry around…
    2) So people paid goldsmiths to store the money, and got paper receipts for it…
    3) After a while, people used the receipts like money, and left the gold in the bank most of the time. So the bankers got clever and came up with a scam…
    4) The banks printed off receipts for more gold than they actually had, and ”loaned” those receipts out to charge interest on it. They kept their fingers crossed, hoping that not more than a few people would come in asking to redeem receipts for real gold at the same time. This let them make a lot of money charging interest, because they could charge interest on MONEY THEY DIDN’T HAVE.
    An analogy can be made using property and titles. Here’s the scam in another way:
    Step 1: Acquire a vacation home.
    Step 2: Sell the title to the home to one person.
    Step 3: Sell the title to the home to ANOTHER person.
    Step 4: Hope both of them don’t show up on the same weekend!
    Fractional reserve banking lets a bank say to a depositor that all his money is safe and sound at the bank, while at the same time they get to loan most of it out to someone else and charge interest on it. So there are two people with a legitimate claim to the same pile of money. So whose is it, really? And where is it?
    This profitable scam runs the risk of discovery when too many customers ask for what is theirs all at the same time. This is called a run on the bank, and the best the banks can do is call in their loans and see how much money they can cough up, which is invariably far less than what people believed they had deposited.
    The story of the vacation home is a good analogy of how banking works today, except for one important thing: there is no home. Because our money is no longer backed by gold, we have all been trading titles to property which does not even exist! Paper backs paper, and all they represent are promises to pay. This is the reality of money, and is quite different from how most of us expect it to be.
    What’s the result?
    1) Loaning money while claiming it is still on deposit increases the money supply, essentially creating more money (otherwise deposits would vanish). In essence, for the bank to have your cake and loan it too, it must create more cake. This increase in money supply is the cause of inflation.
    2) Almost every dollar that exists is owed to a bank somewhere, because at some time in history, it was created when it was loaned out.
    3) The amount of money owed to banks is more than all the money in existence! So we cannot possibly get out of debt under this system. The bulk of this debt is in the form interest, which is an arbitrary amount of money banks demand in return, but never gave.
    4) There is no money, in the real sense. Just checks, data stored on computers, and promises. It is all created by typing on a keyboard, and signing signatures. The only tangible assets in regard to money anymore is the collateral we pledge when we ask for a loan. The money they loan you comes from nowhere, but the assets you lose in foreclosure are real!
    5) Because the US government borrows from the Federal Reserve, bankers have the power to influence our society and government by controlling finance. They decide to create (or not create) money depending on who’s asking, and for what. They choose what projects get funded, and let other needs wither on the vine by starving them of working capital. This subtle yet immense power is more than enough to undermine democracy, and guide the course of a nation’s history.
    So what’s the solution?
    Simple. The public must demand that money must not be created by loaning it into existence. It must be something that is openly and publicly controllable, issuable, accountable, and interest-free. Otherwise, a class of parasites will rise to power in society by cleverly disguising the fact that the money they are creating, spending, and controlling us with is
    MONEY THAT ISN’T EVEN REAL.

  18. Not Easy Being GREEN says:

    QUOTE ** However, you will only see Government green energy initiatives that keep you dependent on the supply utilities.
    Posted by: Gleno | March 29, 2008 at 01:43 AM **
    What you said Gleno! it is worth repeating till we have it ingrained in our brain and take that info with us when we vote on any issue. Before we go “GREEN” in USA they will have to squeeeeeze every penny out of us on their oil interests which keeps the rich RICH and the poor POOR and the distinction between the two ever wider. It will NEVER be about “free energy” … never. Why would insanely wealthy persons give up any endeavours that make him/her money, to “save the planet and its inhabitants”? haha that idea is purely LAUGHABLE and sadly not going to happen. There is no bend, there is no compromise with the rich elitists that run the planet. And you all know that.
    Expect to pay for your “free” or “green” energies. And meanwhile, learn to live within your own means and see how you can make changes in your own life. If possible, meanwhile, stock up on non GM seeds, if thats even still possible in the area you live to find sellers of organic seeds. I recall as a child my grandparents had their own 1/2 acre garden along with several fruit trees. Every week, they were buying packaged seeds at the grocery. Think and do for yourself re: “going green” .. dont let your government take all the “responsbility”

  19. Not Easy Being GREEN says:

    NAMEREQUIRED – you are my internet HERO!!
    I copied/saved your information and will share that often on many forums, boards, etc. Shame Univ. Econ. students do not get this info into their brains.
    I sure hope we all are taking at least BABY STEPS into waking up and do not giant leap backwards on this issue of the truth about economy and money.
    The KISS rule for explanation and the KISS rule for living smartly.

  20. sheila says:

    Gleno got it right, but it’s not just oil and coal we need to worry about. these gigantic “solar farms” and “wind farms” kill tens of thousands of acres of pristine wilderness, force hundreds of people from their homes with the gigantic power lines that come with them and increase energy chokeholds on ratepayers. all on your federal lands, and your tax dollars!
    LADWP is doing just that in the Joshua Tree area, which will be ruined forever if their “green path north” project proceeds. Why can LADWP only get 550 PV systems up on 1.4 million residential rooftops in LA but can afford giant wind and solar farms, and billion dollar power lines through a gorgeous, vital section of habitat way outside of LA? How dare they call this mercenary, destructive garbage “green!” It’s Chinatown all over again and we must stop them.
    Check out http://www.stopgreenpath.com if you want to learn more. This is the first of hundreds of similar projects which will destroy this state if we don’t steer our legislators towards our roofs and away from our beautiful, fragile wilderness!

  21. Freak says:

    Has anybody noticed that human overpopulation is that cause of our energy, and just about every other problem we have today ? Maybe we need less people with better habits .

  22. c-t-m says:

    HEy, Not easy being GREN and NAMEREQUIRED:
    I’m sorry that you think you have mastered economics and think that moronic diatribe is worth reposting. You must be the result of a LAUSD (mis)education if you thing that capsule is the definition and explanation of modern economics. It’s at best a tenth of a description of the initial conversion to paper notes. And in most people’s hands, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially when you think that the part is the whole and never bother (or even deny) there is more to it.
    It also has nothing to do with addressing the issues of the blog post. Solar energy is a nice crutch, but it is no end-all, be-all to modern existence. Converting off oil is not simply a choice, it is the overhaul of manufacturing, distribution, economics, construction and energy infrastructure. There is no little feat, nor is there just one element preventing anything. It’s going to take two or three generations to make a conversion.
    For example, electric cars are a great idea. Where is the energy going to come to power them? We don’t have enough electrical plants today to even power SoCal through a summer, with all working at 104% capacity for 3-4 months a year. (And yet environmentalists sue to block the construction of any new ones.)
    Solar Energy could start out being a building requirement, say any building over three stories has to have enough panels on it to cover at least 5% of their energy usage… but the nature of solar and costs involved don’t make it a panacea.
    But more than anything, it is my sincere hope that mis-educated people like yourself are never in a position to govern policy. THAT would be a disaster.

  23. Robert Constant says:

    A post from Jason (March 29, 2008 at 05:52 AM) states that it is only recently that “…they are making solar cells that last more than 5 years.”
    This is absoluitely false. The first solar electric cells manufactured in the 1950s by Bell Labs STILL function today! I have personally designed and installed systems that are still pumping out power 15 years after they have been installed.
    Solar Elelctric cells have no moving parts and nothing to wear out. They last virtually forever. That is why on every system we build, we incorporate only top of the line materials and workmanship — the entire system should last as long as the cells.
    Robert Constant
    President
    Constant Solar Power, Inc.
    http://www.constantsolar.com

  24. Red says:

    My Dad worked for SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric) all of my life and was a fiend for conservation. I also remember having solar panels installed on our roof WAAAYYYY BACK THEN. Why is everyone suddenly acting like this is a NEW thing?? My folks were NOT *rich* to be able to afford this. I have looked into solar now and it is very expensive. Why was it affordable enough for my VERY middle class parents back then? My husband says the same thing…this should have been happening 50 years ago. We KNEW at least 40 years ago that our dependency on oil was disasterous, but insisted on burying our heads in the sand so everyone could keep *consuming* and ignoring the real problems. Typical of our country.
    Btw…Anyone else remember the 1970′s commercial where the ping pong balls fell all over the floor everytime the guy opened up his fridge? I still can’t open my fridge without hearing my Dad screaming “The ping pong balls!!”

  25. Jim Bob says:

    LA is infamous around the world for smog, the lack of urban planning, the millions of people who waste gas every day commuting alone in their car to work, and the inadequate bus and subway system. Its no surprise to read posts by Angelenos whining now about the cost of energy and the delays in installing solar panels. I suggest you stop complaining that somebody else didn’t already do this for you, and support the solar projects under construction now.

  26. JJ says:

    Robert Constant | March 30, 2008 at 03:29 AM
    “. . .still pumping out power 15 years after they have been installed.
    Solar Elelctric cells have no moving parts and nothing to wear out. They last virtually forever.”
    Extremely pertinent point. To be fair as well, there is a drop-off in efficiency however. A system originally installed may operate at 99% capacity for example, but there is a rate of cellular decay that decreases a panels output over time. So, 30 years later, (still wow, 30 years) the same panel may only produce at 75% to 85% capacity.
    The more panels we install now, the greater demand. The more manufacturing we do here in the states, the cheaper these panels will become to replace, as well as install.
    Renewable Energy, in all it’s forms, is the right answer, no matter the initial cost. No matter how “insufficient” they may be in the near term for replacing our current energy “usages”. Let me put out there that very important distinction; the difference between NEED and USAGE. As a 1st world nation, we have a convenient way of marrying the two. No difference between the two in our minds, very similar to any form of addiction.
    One could argue that the American Energy Consumer could use a little time with Dr. Drew, on forms of addiction.

  27. jja_American says:

    Green power? grow corn to make fuel, stupid, maybe the ‘extra’ corn will help? yes solar works but not for everyone. why don’t people slow down while driving?= they are lazy!I like electric cars BUT where is the power coming from? coal, LNG, and yep OIL..we need Nuclear. period. If you think we can have free energy you are dreaming. Nothing is free. Mr Carter gave a very good speech on oil in 1979 I was there..He was not our best president. he did in fact start the smart bomb program, and I wish he would have sent one or 50 to Iran for taking US citizens for 444 days. Had I been a Hostage I would have prayed to GOD for that gift..oh, one more thing Prius drivers are among the worst, right along with SUV’s
    Have a Green day..

  28. Mike B. says:

    Most people would rather have a new car every 2-5 years than a new solar-efficient roof once.
    A great many people would rather have a giant-screen TV than send their kids to summer camp or pay for their kids’ braces.
    Some people are just never going to get their priorities straight. I dare say most.

  29. Ginger K. says:

    If there is a god, he or she must be either laughing or crying and thinking;
    “You big dumb idiots! I gave you the biggest battery you could ever imagine, shining heat and energy on your orb all the time, and what do you do? Poison your environment with burnt oil and nuculear waste in order to cool your houses and try to get away from the massive amount of free energy I’m sending your way.
    And now you’ve convinced your religious folks that addressing global climate change as a result of your actions is a Marxist plot, so now they’re burning extra oil for Jesus.
    “From what I can tell so far, your species is too stupid to survive. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time around.”

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