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Biofuel Solar Power Plant Answered

PG&E has a signed a deal with a Portuguese firm that is building a hybrid biofuel solar power plant in the Central Valley area of California. The plant will combine solar power with agricultural waste to produce energy--a very enterprising solution to get energy from an abundant, eco-friendly source.




11 years ago

This is a fantastic idea! I live in the northwest and up here we still torch off much of our logging debris. It doesn't make any sense. I'd like to see all agricultural waste either composted or if burned at least used to generate usable energy.


Reply 11 years ago

True- agriculture produces a lot of waste, a lot of which (like wheat stubble) is still burned in the fields for convenience's sake. Perhaps more of this should be used for making oil?

This article does make me concerned about the nutritive value of the plant biomass being potentially lost, though- biomass isn't pure hydrocarbon, so what happens to all the phosphates and nitrogen and whatnot?


11 years ago

Hmmmm.... They seem awfully cagey about what kind of "biofuel" will be involved in this project.

Ah - this article from sfgate sheds a little more light:

"The plant, near the old oil-patch town of Coalinga in Fresno County, will combine a large solar farm with a generator that burns orchard trimmings, agricultural waste and, yes, excrement."

In other words, they're planning to use a waste incinerator to keep the plant running at night. Not exactly the kind of biofuel I'd prefer to see them use. For one, it's bound to burn dirtier than gasoline or coal. Still, it's a renewable source, and I guess it's carbon neutral because of that.

I'm guessing that the main savings come not so much from producing energy at night, but rather from keeping the high-temperature solar concentrators from cooling down.