Mojave Desert to power 85% of town with Concentrated Solar Power
The small Mojave desert town of Nipton, California has just put itself on the map by installing a solar utility system to supply 85 percent of power for the town. The 38 residents of Nipton are hoping their status as "the most solar town in America" will inspire tourism while generating clean energy from their most abundant resource, the desert sun. The concentrated solar system -- a product of Skyline Solar -- consists of modular reflective solar troughs that not only track the movement of the sun, but are positioned so they produce a high-gain passive cooling affect that allows the silicon cells to generate ten times the amount of energy per unit than rooftop systems.
The lightweight solar array of reflective aluminum troughs are mounted in a W-shaped reflective rack that counterbalances the collected sunlight by capturing it on one side of the trough and focusing it on the other. Since Skyline's solar troughs are modular, the town can just add more units if their population increases -- creating a "pay as you go" solar utility system that can be scaled up in case their notoriety starts attracting new residents to Nipton.