Big solar, little solar - Page 3

Which renewable technology holds the key for a sunnier (and more democratic) energy future?

Desert solar farms like the Ivanpah facility (above) need miles of transmission lines. Rooftop solar panels (below) don't.

Introduced as Senate Bill 843 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), the bill would allow any customer to purchase a subscription to a centralized renewable energy facility, and receive credit on their utility bill in exchange for the monthly fee.

White takes the view that all the different solar technologies are needed — rooftop, desert, and "intermediary" — the kind of small-scale, centralized facility that is located closer to the customers who will use it, like the solar array at the Sunset Reservoir in San Francisco. "After Fukushima [Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan], we need to begin talking seriously about reducing our dependence on nuclear power," White says. "When you look at what we're trying to replace and what we're trying to avoid, it's like we're trying to assemble a new portfolio."