In the Spanish town of Seville, a solar electric power plant started producing energy. After years of construction and some financial help from the EU, the plant, named PS10 (yes, we know it’s not the most awe-inspiring name), is now producing 11 megawatts of energy, which can power 6,600 homes in the area.

According to an article on Greenprices.com:

"The project execution took 54 months, from 1 July 2001 to 31 December 2005. PS10 is the first of a set of solar electric power generation plants to be constructed in the same area which will total more than 300 MW by 2013."

About 625 mirrors, called heliostats, send the sun’s rays to the top of the tower, which stands 380 feet high. There, a solar receiver and a turbine work together to drive a generator.

Another solar power plant was unveiled in a sunny region of Portugal. According to a BBC article about the Portugal project:

"Burning fossil fuels to generate the same amount of energy would result in 30,000 tons of greenhouse gases being emitted over the course of a year."

With all this talk of clean coal, nuclear power, and ethanol, it can be hard to figure out the best energy option, but we’re pretty sure that solar electric power is a good investment. Except, of course, where the sun don’t shine.

Story by Susan Cosier. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007