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Solar Round-Up: World's Largest Solar Plants and Thinnest Cells

South Africa Unveils Plans for 'World's Biggest' Solar Power Plant: Giant Mirrors and Solar Panels in Northern Cape Would Reduce Carbon Emissions and Generate One-Tenth of the Country's Energy Needs

Jonathan de Vries, the project manager, said today: "I'd hate to make a large claim but yes, this would be the biggest solar park in the world."...De Vries said the park, costing 150-200bn rand, would aim to be contributing to the national grid by the end of 2012. In the initial phase it would produce 1,000 megawatts, or 1GW, using a mix of the latest solar technologies...An initial 9,000 hectares of state-owned land have been earmarked for the park, with further sites in the "solar corridor" being explored...De Vries, a special adviser to the energy minister, said the Northern Cape had been chosen for insolation readings (a measure of solar energy) that rank among the highest in the world.

World's Largest Solar Plant Gets U.S. OK: $6 Billion Project in Calif. Aims to Power At Least 300,000 Homes

The project in the Mojave Desert near Blythe, Calif., is the sixth solar venture authorized on federal lands within the last month. All are in desert areas...Construction on the $6 billion plant is expected to start by the end of 2010, with production starting in 2013. Developer Solar Millennium, a company based in Germany, says the plant will generate 1,066 construction jobs and 295 permanent jobs...The plant will use "parabolic trough" system whereby parabolic mirrors focus the sun's energy onto collector tubes.

Solar Cells Thinner Than Wavelengths of Light Hold Huge Power Potential, Stanford Researchers Say

Ultra-thin solar cells can absorb sunlight more efficiently than the thicker, more expensive-to-make silicon cells used today, because light behaves differently at scales around a nanometer (a billionth of a meter), say Stanford engineers. They calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than was thought possible.

(Thanks for the tip Jer!)

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