Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility: Birds, Beaches and Solar Power

A project like Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility is rare in that the scale and vision of its developers match those of a big-city developer. Steve Jurvetson, managing director of the Bay Point Group, had this to say about the project:

“We are talking about something on the order of 600 megawatts of solar photovoltaic electricity—this is enough power for a city the size of Santa Barbara. And yet, it’s all entirely contained within a project that is not only self-sufficient, but can also be considered to be an environmentally responsible use of natural resources.”

The project’s website boasts:

“The vision behind the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility is to reduce our dependence on imported oil and fossil fuels, reduce our carbon footprint, and provide sustainable energy for our homes, our businesses, and our communities. We all share the same desire for a cleaner environment, and with this type of energy solution, our dreams of an environmentally-sound future become a reality.”

Indeed, the 400 megawatts of solar photovoltaic electricity that Crescent Dunes generates will only account for about 0.5% of the energy needs of a city of 125,000 people. The facility provides enough energy for about 25% of the city’s annual electricity needs. Other sources of energy account for the bulk of the city’s electricity needs. The developers of Crescent Dunes state that the project is designed to be self-sufficient in energy, but add that future expansion is a possibility.

How To Achieve Self-Sufficiency

The developers of Crescent Dunes state that their PV system uses an innovative dual-axis track alignment to achieve highest efficiencies. They say that the system maximizes power and minimizes shadowing effects, resulting in more efficient use of natural light. This results in lower electricity rates for the city. The developers of the project say that it’s possible to achieve 100% renewable energy independence within a decade. They plan to use a combination of wind power and solar energy to meet this goal.

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