Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)
Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger
Despite the onset of the Reagan backlash, the early 1980’s saw several significant renewable energy and conservation related events. These included the completion of the Solar One Project in the Mojave Desert just east of Barstow, CA. Designed by a team of scientists from the Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California; Southern California Edison; the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; and the California Energy Commission; Solar One was a pilot solar-thermal project that provided the first test of a large-scale solar tower plant.
Prototype of a large-scale solar farm
The plant’s method of collecting energy was based on concentrating the sun’s energy onto a common focal point to produce the heat needed to run a steam turbine generator. It had hundreds of large mirror assemblies, or heliostats, that tracked the sun and reflected the solar energy onto a tower where a black receiver absorbed the heat. High-temperature heat transfer fluid was then used to carry the energy to a boiler on the ground where the steam was used to spin a series of turbines—much like a traditional power plant.
The first half of the Reagan “Decade of Decadence” hit another positive note when the US wind energy industry spun into existence with 17,000 turbines centered primarily in California. Danish companies—including Kuriant, Vestas, Nordtank, and Bonus—crafted most of the world’s first aeolian units including those installed in the US. Unfortunately, the wind industry in the US soon fell prey to a combination of bad technology and lackadaisical policy.
The first wind farm in US history—consisting of twenty 30 kilowatt (kW) turbines—was constructed on Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire in 1981. The project was deemed a failure due to turbine breakdowns and overestimation of wind power as a reliable energy source. Then in 1985, a wind farm in California—that was powering 250,000 homes—was determined to be inadequate because of the limited maximum capacity of its turbines. Meanwhile throughout the decade, US DOE funding for wind power research and development was experiencing a decline—reaching a low point in 1989.
Crotched Mountain Wind Farm in New Hampshire
Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.