Xcel backing away from solar-thermal enabling San Luis Valley transmission

Xcel appears to be backing away from new transmission lines to the San Luis Valley.  This infrastructure is required to implement the several hundred megawatts of solar-thermal generation that they proposed in their 2007 resource plan.  Solar thermal is the only renewable power (other than pumped hydro, which has limited availability) for which energy storage is potentially feasible right now (e.g. using huge tanks of molten salt).  It’s interesting to contrast the utility’s statements on the San Luis Valley project with what they’re saying about the Pawnee retrofit, and what they said about the Comanche 3 plant.

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Shared Links for May 24th

  • Math and the City – The same scaling laws seem to apply to both cities and organisms: infrastructure requirements per capita (or per unit body mass) go down as population (size) go up. Not so surprising, since both cities and bodies are connected to themselves by networks of wires (neurons) and tubes (pipes, transportation, blood vessels) (tagged: urban design economics sustainability transportation infrastructure biology )
  • Sustainable Transport that Works: Lessons from Germany – A 60 page report on how Germany has transformed its urban transportation systems over the Post-War period, moving toward more public transit and bicycle infrastructure, the costs, benefits, effects, etc. What has worked, and what hasn't. (tagged: bicycle transportation policy urban design system:filetype:pdf system:media:document )
  • NASA Gets Out of Satellite Servicing Business – And good riddance. Yes, the capability was amazing, but expensive and unnecessary. For the price of *each* Hubble servicing missions, we could have launched an entirely new Hubble-class telescope on a rocket. The shuttle is a solution in search of a problem. Someday we'll have a real reason to send people into space — e.g. long term scientific exploration of Mars, or if we're lucky, the beginnings of a two-world civilization — but until then, we're just going around in circles, and forking over hundreds of billions unnecessarily to the aerospace industry. Better them than the banks… but that's really no argument to stand on. (tagged: space nasa politics policy )
  • Buying farmland abroad: Outsourcing's third wave – I don't know how anybody can think this is going to work long term. The whole point is to have food when there's a crisis, but in case of crisis, these deals are going to go down hard, unless those on the receiving end are willing to deploy their militaries on foreign soil to protect their investment. Which isn't impossible, but certainly doesn't seem like a great deal for anyone. (tagged: agriculture food china africa sustainability economics trade )
  • Crack Gardens – No, not gardens in which you grow crack, gardens growing out of cracks. A little creative jack-hammering opened up some fissures in this concrete slab, out of which a garden now grows. An homage to the tenacious plants that will take our cities apart when we leave. (tagged: gardening urban design art )