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经济学人:太阳能发电厂 蓝色的钢铁海洋

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Solar farms

太阳能发电厂
Blue steel
蓝色的钢铁海洋
British fields adopt a new crop
英国大地上种起了新“庄稼”
Let's take it to Spain
我们把它搬去西班牙吧
TWO nuclear bombs are among many curious machines which the Science Museum stores at an old airfield in Wiltshire. An early hovercraft stands with a fleet of submersibles and a truck that once roamed the Antarctic. Now a new acquisition is on the way. Around the runway workers are preparing to lay out 155,000 solar panels—at about 170 acres, one of the biggest solar farms in Britain.
科学博物馆将许多稀奇古怪的机器储藏在位于威尔特郡(Wiltshire)的废旧机场里,这其中就包括两枚核弹。还有一艘早期的气垫船,一排潜水器,和一辆曾经驰骋于南极洲的卡车。现如今,一项新的收藏将要加入它们的行列。工人们准备在跑道的周围搭建155,000张太阳能板。该工程占地约170英亩,将有望成为英国最大的太阳能发电厂。
Though Britain's hillsides are peppered with wind turbines, solar panels produce less than half of one percent of its power. Racing to hit a European target that requires it to generate 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the government wants a lot more. Gregory Barker, an energy minister, says the solar industry could expand sixfold within a decade. Laid on the ground, that many panels would fill an area of about 150 square miles.
尽管不列颠的山坡上布满了用来风力发电的风轮机,并且其发电量差不多是太阳能板发电量的两百多倍。然而面对亟待实现的目标,英国政府还有很长的路要走。欧盟已设定了目标:截至2020年,欧盟成员国30%的电力供给要来自可再生能源。能源部长格雷戈里·巴克尔(Gregory Barker)说,在未来的十年内太阳能行业将扩展六倍。若将如此多数量的太阳能板平铺开来,它们将覆盖150平方英里的区域。

Fields full of solar panels are less obtrusive than hillside turbines, and simpler to install. Whereas opposition to wind power is mounting, about 85% of Britons back new solar projects. Big arrays may even encourage some kinds of wildlife, for example by sheltering ground-nesting birds.

布满太阳能板的区域看上去并不会如山坡上的风轮机那样突兀,并且太阳能板安装起来也比风轮机更简单。相比于风力发电受到越来越多的反对,新的太阳能项目却获得了大约85%的英国人的支持。大范围地铺设太阳能板甚至有利于某些野生动物的生存。 例如一些筑巢的鸟类将其作为遮蔽隐藏之所。
It is also getting cheaper. The cost of installing solar panels has fallen by half since 2010 due to heavy deployment in Germany and elsewhere. Weak British sunlight makes energy from solar farms about 25% more expensive than from onshore wind turbines—and more than twice the wholesale price of power—but the government expects a 20% reduction by 2020.
此外,利用太阳能发电也变得越来越便宜了。由于德国以及其他一些国家强化部署发展太阳能产业,自2010年以来,安装太阳能板的成本已经降低了一半。英国较弱的光照条件使得来自太阳能的电力要比近海风力发电所产生的电力贵25%,电力批发价格方面前者更是后者的两倍多。然而,英国政府预期,到2020年太阳能电费将降低20%。
Solar companies say ministers must do more. Planners, fearing eyesores, are growing less co-operative (complaints from rural campaigners are holding up the Science Museum's array). Grid connections are getting more expensive as developers choose sites ever farther from big towns. The biggest fear is of government backsliding. In January ministers said they will soon require solar farms to bid against onshore wind projects for some subsidies.
太阳能公司认为,部长们需要有更大的作为。由于担心影响美观,规划师们越来越不合作(来自乡村的反对者们的抱怨阻碍了科学博物馆的部署)。因为开发者们选址离大城镇越来越远,并网的成本也越来越高。最令人担心的是政府再次犯错。今年一月曾有部长表示,政府将要求太阳能发电厂以投标的形式来与近海风力发电项目竞争政府补贴。
Yet caution is wise, for two reasons. First, hefty investment in sunnier countries means the price of panels will keep falling without much help from British taxpayers; government cash might go much further in a year or two. Asian competition means Britain's firms are unlikely to become successful solar manufacturers, no matter how much money is thrown at them.
然而基于两方面的理由考虑,谨慎行事才是明智之举。一方面,光照充足的国家向该行业注入巨额投资意味着:即使没有英国政府的资金投入,太阳能板的价格将会持续下跌。或许未来一两年投入政府资金会带来更深远的影响。亚洲竞争者注定了英国公司无法在太阳能制造业上取得成功。这一点,无论英国人砸多少钱进去也无法改变。
Second, the price of solar panels reflects only part of the technology's costs. Panels produce very little power during winter; in summer they can generate too much. The National Grid, which manages Britain's power-transmission network, says that a big solar programme would mean finding extra cash to mitigate these swings in supply. A preponderance of panels is already making it difficult to build more farms in the sunny south-west.
另一方面,太阳能板的价格仅仅反映了一部分该项技术的成本。太阳能电池板在冬天的发电量很低,而夏天又能产生大量电能。经营英国输电网络的英国国家电力供应公司(The National Grid)称, 实施大型太阳能供电项目将意味着同时需要寻求额外的资金投入来中和这种电力供应上的波动。在阳光灿烂的西南地区,漫山遍野的太阳能电池板几乎已经布满了整个区域。人们很难再找到余地去建造更多的太阳能发电厂。
If Britain is serious about hitting its legally-binding target for renewable generation, more solar seems inevitable. But the roofs of offices, factories and warehouses are the best places for it. Putting panels there lowers energy bills for businesses while placing less strain on local grids. That seems a brighter idea.
如果英国真的打算实现具有法律约束力的可再生能源电力供应目标,寻求更多的太阳能发电似乎不可避免。然而,或许办公室、工厂以及仓库的房顶才是太阳能电池板最好的安家之处。这样做能够在降低商业用电费用的同时减轻地方电网的负担。这似乎是个更明智的主意。译者:邵灵玲 校对:卫婷婷

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