Solar installations – everyone knows what profit they make: reduction of CO2 emission, creating new jobs, providing a new stimulus in technology development, gradual change of course towards ecological sources of generating energy. It is easy to overlook the issue of changes which are brought into landscape, where they are installed. Can we treat solar systems only as foreign elements disfiguring natural beauty of environment or maybe on the contrary – they are harmonious complements of its values? What are other possible ways of using this innovative energy sources?
Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant – proud of Japanese Kyocera
Japan – Kagoshima, placed in the south of the country. The world's second - largest solar plant is located in Kagoshima. It comprises 290 thousands solar panels placed on 314 acres, which generate 70 MW and are able to power 22 thousands of households. Installation was constructed in December 2013 and it resells its electricity to local energy supplier - Kyushu Electric Power Co. for a price fixed by Japanese law. Total investment cost was 275,5 millions dollars.
The main patron and shareholder of the project – Japanese Kyocera Company has found another purpose to the project - a tourist attraction both for Japanese enthusiasts of latest technology and foreign guests. Company has created special, marketing movie to advertise this idea:
The solar plant is open to the public. Guests can visit a special room in which they may have a closer look to the construction with additional explanation of how exactly it works.
If technological installation aspect itself is not interesting enough, one may be convinced to visit the plant by the promise of unforgettable landscape view of Sakurajima volcano:
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System – record-holder amongst solar plants
USA – California, Mojave desert. Since February 13, 2014 Mojave desert locates the biggest solar plant in the world. It generates power of 392 MW and therefore provides energy for 140 thousands households. The plant consists of 3 towers, towards which solar radiation from 300 thousand mirrors is reflected. Mirrors are controlled by computer system which optimizes its position to maximize solar energy gain. It is HCPV technology (High Concentrated PV) which is lately getting more popular in solar energy market.
Providing funds for this huge investment was possible thanks to cooperation of 3 companies: Google, NRG and Bright Source Energy. It resulted in construction of solar installation which has 30% of all solar energy production in USA and its development is one of the fastest in solar markets in the world.
In this case we can find also other purposes for installation. The owners decided to use it as a tourist attraction. Arguments to interest Ivanpah visitors are: unusual plant view on the background of the desert (from a distance it looks like water surface with small waves), advanced technology used in construction of the plant and also an educational aspect (promotion of „green solutions” by such popular brand as Google).
Below we present article which shows many interesting photos of installation from Mojave desert:
Possibility to make a 3D walk may serve as a further encouragement to visit Ivanpah. It can be found on home site of one of the companies which funded installation construction – Bright Source Energy:
As we can see in mentioned examples – huge solar plants do not need to be restricted only to its original purpose. Thanks to deliberate efforts – they get the chance to be both: complement of visited landscape (being a vantage point or part of a landscape, while harmonizing with the surrounding, like in Mojave desert case) or they can be practical, tangible examples of technology development and educate on ecological values.