Op-Ed: The solar energy Lark

Posted Jul 21, 2011 by Alexander Baron
A company has built a solar energy farm near Newark in record time, but the true potential of this wonderful resource is being sadly neglected.
Lark Energy s Hawton Solar Farm becomes UK’s Largest to Connect to Electricity Network.
Lark Energy's Hawton Solar Farm becomes UK’s Largest to Connect to Electricity Network.
Lark Energy
The BBC Breakfast news programme this morning reported on a massive 30 acre solar energy farm that has been built at Newark in a matter of weeks. The land, which had been farmed by one family for four generations, is now home to 21,600 solar panels which it is hoped will generate up to 5 Megawatts of energy. Although it is now unsuitable for grazing horses, the positioning of the panels would certainly allow a few hundred free range chickens to share the field, but the developers, Lark Energy, have other things on their minds, in particular a soon to be enacted government cap on the money sites of this size can earn by feeding power into the National Grid.
Five Megawatts is said to be enough energy to supply thirteen hundred homes, but the government appears to be intent on encouraging smaller projects. This is good news for Britannia, but it could be even better news for Uncle Sam, because America has something we don’t have: desert, and lots of it.
Solar farms ten or even a hundred times the size of this one could easily be built across California’s Mojave Desert, Arizona and Nevada, and without interfering with the flora and fauna. With a clean, renewable, virtually free source of energy, Americans could largely abandon their tiresome internal flights and mandatory gropes by TSA officials for subsidised high speed trains. Low cost freight trains and subsidised city trams could further reduce oil consumption.
In addition to that, new homes and not so new commercial premises could have solar panels installed for next to nothing with a suitable government subsidy or no interest loan.
The United States is currently consuming over 5 million barrels of oil a day; that consumption could probably be cut in half for less than the cost of the current Greek bailout, and the savings, and other benefits such as cleaner air, would be ongoing. All that is needed is the will to do it.