Gregorius T

Thar Be Solar Gold In Them Thar Fields!

Hi Friends.  I hope you’re all doin swell.

Well … life on the high desert continues.  It’s gotten a bit chilly, these last couple of weeks.  The good thing is, I’m rather used to it now.  In order to keep the heating bill under control, I turn the heat down during the night, and use an electric blanket.  That means, it’s pretty friggen cold in the morning, which makes it real “fun” when sauntering down to the coffee maker while wearing nothing but me … ok, TMI! TMI!

Speaking of heating and energy, I’ve discovered something during my local wanderings.  Bend, Oregon is surrounded by solar power fields.

bend solar field

The above photo is one of a few solar fields located just outside of Bend.  You can see that it is quite expansive and covers a large area.  Central Oregon is geographically well-positioned for solar fields. Two components are present here in abundance.  Flat land, that is not much good for growing crops or grazing cattle, and … SUNSHINE!

So, what’s the deal with the flat land, you ask?

Bend, and it’s surroundings, sit on what is known as a lava field.  A lava field, as you may know, is a large area of chunky lava rock.  These fields of chunky lava rock are often covered with a thin layer of nutrient-poor topsoil.  Cattle don’t like it much, and it’s a real challenge to grow crops on it.

As for the sun, everything East of the Cascade mountains get’s maximum sun.  The storm systems roll in off the Pacific, dump most of their moisture trying to get over the mountains, and in most cases can’t make it over the mountains at all.  Hence, not many cloudy skys over Central and Eastern Oregon for most days of the year.  Also, Central Oregon is at fairly high elevation, which means even more UV radiation.  Ka-ching!

What does one do with huge areas of flat nutrient-poor land and heaps of sun?  Solar gold, baby!

These solar fields are pretty amazing.  About 3 acres of solar field can put out about a billion watt-hours per year.  32 acres of solar field will power about 1,000 homes for an entire year.

The sweet thing about solar field power generation is, no pollutants or waste.  They sit there silent, absorbing all of that tremendous and beautiful energy coming from our sun.  Depending on the design of the solar field, and how open and accessible it is, impact to wildlife can be negligible.

I think solar power generation technology is just getting started.  I’m not even a solar power expert, and I have ideas popping into my head on how this technology can be advanced.

One idea being, instead of just building horizontally over larger and larger land areas, let’s get a bit vertical, eh.

One of the complaints about solar fields is, many of them are surrounded by a fence with big “No Trespassing” signs.  Yes, I know “No Trespassing” signs are unfortunately part of American culture, but in the case of public lands, or even some corporate-owned land, perhaps accessibility to lands can be maintained.  One of the ways this can be achieved is to use less land for the solar field by stacking the panels vertically.  Using tower constructs, mirrors, and perhaps allowing the angle of each panel to be adjustable, a solar panel tower can be used.  It’s doesn’t have to be really high.  Perhaps, just a handful of panels per tower.

Ok.  The inventor in me is starting to emerge, which usually results in rolled eyes, snores, and general looks of boredom.

So, with that being said, I’m outta here.  Until next time, cheers.




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