Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yucca Valley Looking At Banning Commercial Solar & Wind Farms

 by

Yucca Valley, San Bernardino, California, United States
YUCCA VALLEY — Following in the footsteps of their colleagues in Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley officials have moved toward prohibiting the development of commercial solar and wind development within town limits.
 
In reviewing that part of the town’s development code pertaining to renewable energy facilities, the planning commission on May 6 voted unanimously to recommend banning commercial solar and wind farms. A key element of the language discussed and passed was the term “commercial.” While the prohibition the planning commission envisions pertains to renewable energy generation facilities run by utility companies or their subcontractors, it does not apply to solar or wind power collection devices on private property.
 
The commission’s recommendation is non-binding, but provides guidance to the town council which will have final say in the matter.
 
The general consensus of the commission was that massive solar or wind farms are inappropriate within the confines of 40-square mile Yucca Valley and can be more appropriately accommodated in the desert expanse outside of town and that the long term employment value of such developments is marginal.
Subject to federal incentives and subsidies, private companies, many of them foreign-based, have undertaken solar energy projects in the Mojave Desert, with applications on more than a dozen such projects pending. Many of the projects are slated for or proposed on federal land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management.
 
While the commission appeared open to the concept of allowing homeowners to erect windmills or solar panels on residentially zoned properties, it was suggested that the city adopt regulations calling for the shielding or camouflaging of solar panels.
 
There has been a significant uptick in the application for solar panels on residential properties in the last two years.
 
Last September, the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission recommended a prohibition on  commercial solar fields both within the city and its sphere of influence.
 
The complexion and range of solar power has changed somewhat in recent years. Solar fields are generally large scale facilities that entail variations on a few basic designs, all of which entail a massive array of solar panels, or in the alternative, solar mirrors. One design involves mirror arrays focusing the sun’s rays on a central vessel containing water. The heat from the redirected sunlight causes the water to boil and the steam is used to drive a turbine, which in turn creates electricity. Another design entails having the mirrors focus the sunlight on a glass tube or series of glass tubes containing Therminol, a synthetic petroleum product.  The Therminol, which has various ratings that allow it to absorb temperatures ranging from 700 degrees  to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, is then pumped to a heat condenser, which is used to boil water and create steam to run turbines and generate electricity. A variation on this design entails pumping the Therminol not to a heat condenser but to a series of Stirling engines, devices which have compression chambers inhabited by gasses of differing densities. By passing the heat across the top of the engines, the pistons are activated. The Stirling engines are then used to run the turbines to generate the electricity. Other solar fields involve arrays of large photovoltaic cells.
 
Solar power need not, in this day and age, entail such arrays, which some people consider unaesthetic.  Photo-voltaic film, photo-voltaic laminates and smaller or camouflaged  solar panels  can be applied to or built on or into existing or new homes or industrial or commercial structures and be much less visually imposing than more aggressive solar power projects, i.e., commercial solar fields.

Syndicated from San Bernardino Sentinel

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