Comparing Solar Plants to Kemper Plant. Future Energy Technology.


The Motley Fool’s Reuben Brewer wrote a piece on new energy projects taking center stage.  He focused on a new model from SolarCity and the Kemper Plant from Mississippi Power Company, otherwise known as the Kemper County Energy Facility.  To start, Brewer outlined two “massive” solar projects currently underway in the United States.

The Solana plant in Arizona produces 250-megawatts, or MW, of energy and the Ivanpah plant in California will produce 391MW. That’s a grand total of 641 megawatts of power. For comparison purposes, Southern Company’s Kemper plant will produce 582MW once it’s complete.

These two projects are set to double U.S. solar capacity (just 4% of this year’s newly build energy capacity). However, “people consume electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, and since solar relies on the sun (which doesn’t always shine), new models must come into play.  Both SolarCity and Southern Company’s Mississippi Power are investing in new models that could be our energy technology of the future.  For SolarCity, they utilize existing infrastructure.

SolarCity installs solar systems on customer roofs. It then can sell or lease them back to the building owner or simply sell the owner the power the solar system generates. Any one solar installation is tiny, but as SolarCity builds out its portfolio it is slowly building itself into an electric utility. The company expects to have around 500 megawatts of capacity by the end of 2015.

The model of utilizing existing infrastructure means that it turns its customers into partners with long-term supply agreements and leases. One big SolarCity customer is Wal-Mart, “the largest retailer in the country with thousands of rooftops.”


So far Wal-Mart has only installed a couple hundred solar systems, but that puts it well ahead of companies like Costco and Walgreen that are going down the same path. And SolarCity has the pleasure of helping Wal-Mart as it continues to build out this system.

A new model is also seen in Southern Company’s Kemper Plant. The plant will integrate Carbon Capture and Sequestration technologies during its energy production process for eliminating emissions caused by burning lignite coal.  The captured carbon will then be sold to a local oil and gas company for enhanced oil recovery.

And, although it’s a coal plant, Southern is using a suite of technologies that will make it the cleanest coal plant around — capturing “at least” 65% of the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Both Southern Company and SolarCity are making investments today for long term energy diversity and reliability.

Read more at The Motley Fool.


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