Solar Farms; Growing the Future of Clean Energy

Solar Farms; Growing the Future of Clean Energy

In 1956 Issac Asimov, the most prolific science-fiction writer of the mid 20th century, penned a short story called ‘The Final Question’. The tale explored a far distant future where humanity had discovered a means of harnessing the near infinite energy of the sun as a means to generate a clean and limitless source of power. This great discovery freed humanity from the struggle to balance progress against limited resources and ultimately leads us to develop the ability to leave the bounds of Earth and colonize the stars. While the greater scope of Asimov’s grand vision has not yet come to pass, a small part of his dream has come true. Solar power is no longer an imagining of fiction writers; it is a very real and very important aspect of renewable energy initiatives. There are over 70 solar farms across the globe, each with a minimum net capacity of 50 megawatts, and some as high as 590 megawatts. The U.S. accounts for 20% of these solar farms. All told, the current power output of the world’s solar farms is equal to over 50 conventional coal power facilities. Solar farms are large scale photovoltaic systems consisting of hundreds or even thousands of solar panel arrays. Unlike residential solar panel arrays, which are designed to supplement an individual home’s energy needs and reduce reliance on outside energy production, solar arrays in solar farms are linked in circuit to produce much larger quantities of usable energy that is then supplied directly into the local power grid. Regardless of whether a solar panel is affixed to a single home or as a network...