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World's Largest Solar Plant Comes Online

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Kennedy via,

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System officially came online on February 13, becoming the world’s largest source of solar power. With a capacity of 392 megawatts, the solar system will be able to generate enough power for 140,000 homes in California. The $2.2 billion Ivanpah project is located in the Mojave Desert and is a joint venture by NRG Energy, Google, and Brightsource Energy. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz toured the plant today with NRG CEO David Crane.

Ivanpah uses concentrated solar power (CSP), which uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors to reflect the sun towards a tower. This heats a boiler in the tower, which creates steam to drive turbines and make electricity.


The project received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, helping the project developer, Brightsource Energy, to finance the project. Ivanpah is seen as a milestone for the solar power, as it can consistently generating electricity on a large-scale. It is also a sign of progress for the solar industry, which is rapidly growing and bringing down costs. Although solar power only makes up about 1% of total electricity generation, it now employs 140,000 people, more than the coal industry’s almost 90,000.

Yet future growth in solar will likely not come from CSP technology, which is expensive and requires a lot of land. Ivanpah fought for years with environmentalists concerned about the effect on desert wildlife. Replicating projects on the scale of Ivanpah is probably not likely, particularly in areas with greater densities of people and less sun exposure. Instead, rooftop photovoltaic solar power may be the preferred technology, generating solar on site without the need for long distance transmission. Costs for rooftop solar are rapidly declining, and will likely grow exponentially in the coming years. However, the speed at which solar expands will depend on incentives from Congress, many of which are set to expire in 2016.


As WaPo goes on to note,

Ivanpah can be seen as a success story and a cautionary tale, highlighting the inevitable trade-offs between the need for cleaner power and the loss of fragile, open land. The California Energy Commission concluded that while the solar plant would impose “significant impacts on the environment ... the benefits the project would provide override those impacts.”


Such disputes are likely to continue for years as more companies seek to develop solar, wind and geothermal plants on land treasured by environmentalists who also support the growth of renewable energy. At issue is what is worth preserving and at what cost, as California pushes to generate more electricity from renewable sources.




Government documents show dozens of dead birds from sparrows to hawks have been found on the site, some with melted feathers. The suspected causes of death include collisions with mirrors and scorching. In November alone, 11 dead birds were found, including two, a blackbird and a warbler, with singed feathers.


The Western Watersheds Project is continuing to push a lawsuit against federal agencies that reviewed the Ivanpah project.




According to statistics compiled by the Energy Department, the solar industry employs more than 140,000 Americans at about 6,100 companies, with employment increasing nearly 20 percent since the fall of 2012.


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Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:35 | 4437883 rtalcott
rtalcott's picture

What is the REAL operating cost per unit of output?  And what would it be with market financing rates?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:44 | 4437906 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

i wouldnt worry about it too much

cant go on forever, this solar thing

it requires rare earth elements

and there just arent enuf of those to fuel the artificial boom for too long

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:45 | 4437916 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

It powers 140,000 homes. You would need over a hundred of these badboys to power 38 million Californians alone.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:57 | 4437936 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Doubling down on STUPID one $1.6B loan guarantee (yielding insane private sector profits and higher energy costs) at a time...


A Spanish study concluded heavily subsidizing renewable energy in Spain lead to a loss of 2.2 jobs for every one green job created. Spain's unemployment is 19%, indicating green job growth is not an effective way to stimulate an economy. The study also found Spain needs to increase the cost of electricity by 31% to pay for its deficit, largely caused by renewable energy subsidies.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:02 | 4437966 zaphod
zaphod's picture

"Yet future growth in solar will likely not come from CSP technology, which is expensive and requires a lot of land. "


There is nothing technologically interesting about this technology that required a test implementation. If the project made sense financially it would have proceeded on its own. But crony capitalism + gready statist socialists allow negative worth projects to go through. The sooner the US runs out of fake money the better. 

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:13 | 4437988 0b1knob
0b1knob's picture

Don't solar thermal plants of this type invariably use natural gas to heat the steam up to a higher level for more efficient operation?

And isn't the whole thing a scam designed to use natural gas (with solar preheating) to generate power at the higher sales price of "solar" while fooling the eco-tards?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:21 | 4438019 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

How much power does it generate at night?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:32 | 4438052 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

That's raciss.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:58 | 4438300 Stackers
Stackers's picture

Just need 10 more of those to equal 1 large coal fired power plant.....

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:02 | 4438319 nmewn
nmewn's picture

No kidding.

And there won't be a bird or a flying insect within five miles of the things.

Because its fucking "green" or sumpin.

(Greenpeace & PETA oddly silent)

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:44 | 4438437 jon dough
jon dough's picture

Ivanpah can be seen as a success story and a cautionary tale...


We gots lotsa ways of boiling water...


But all we gots is lotsa ways of boiling water...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:54 | 4438446 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Hell, its a consortium of .gov loan guarantees (read stimulus debt bomb aftershocks) NRG, Brightsource cronies and Google.

What could possibly go wrong!

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:09 | 4438489 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Hell, its a consortium of .gov loan guarantees (read stimulus debt bomb aftershocks) NRG, Brightsource cronies and Google.

Oil was (and continues to be) HEAVILY subsidized by .gov. What do you think all those roads and wars were for? 

Solar is a great decentralized energy source, georgia tea party loves it. Only reason they can afford it is because of .gov subsidies in China. 

Want to get off the grid? Solar is it. 

I know y'all can't wrap your feeble minds around AGW, but there's lots of other reasons to like green energy. Maybe if they rename green energy freedom energy Americans will go for it. 

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 23:32 | 4438705 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"I know y'all can't wrap your feeble minds around AGW, but there's lots of other reasons to like green energy."

What a very trite and condescending attitude, from a euro-global warming statist, who has just had his colleagues rescued from a ship, trapped in polar ice, in Antarctica, trying to prove "his theory" on how hot the world is becoming.

A wooden ship made it a hundred years ago spud.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 23:40 | 4438716 flacon
flacon's picture

"spans over five square miles of federal land"


Oh, I thought that it was "the PEOPLE'S land" - said the socialists everywhere.


Nope the FEDERALS have stolen the land it does NOT belong to "the people" (a non-existent collectivist construct)

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 23:35 | 4438711 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Solar is a great decentralized energy source

Not the way we are doing it. It is neither decentralized, nor reliable. How much AGW/CC impact results from the production of PV, and supporting systems, including batteries?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 00:40 | 4438820 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Not the way we are doing it. It is neither decentralized

Well not a solar plant obviously, but the bigger projects lower costs. 

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 00:55 | 4438854 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Bigger projects defer "the costs" to the public instead of risking corporate "profits" in a crony-socialist world...dumbass.

Oh, was that too harsh of me, ya'lls?...twerp.

"According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the cost of building and operating a new solar thermal power plant over its lifetime is greater than generating natural gas, coal or nuclear power. It costs a conventional coal plant $100, on average, to produce a megawatt-hour of power, but that figure is $261 for solar thermal power, according to 2011 estimates.

"The figures do not account for incentives such as state or federal tax credits that can affect the cost."


Sat, 02/15/2014 - 01:37 | 4438895 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Bigger projects defer "the costs" to the public instead of risking corporate "profits" in a crony-socialist world...

Like BP oil spill? Haliburton in Iraq?

Don't need to invade countries and defer taxpayer money to crony 'socialist' (another american who doesn't know what socialism is..) buddies for green energy. 

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the cost of building and operating a new solar thermal power plant over its lifetime is greater than generating natural gas, coal or nuclear power.

And what's the cost of dumping toxic shit into the Dan river? Somehow externalities never manage to work their way into 'costs' - because those real costs go to taxpayers as usual. Yet even so, solar is 261 to 100? Not bad. Give it a decade. 

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 09:26 | 4439145 nmewn
nmewn's picture

And there's the Orwellian disconnect with the reality of the people in a central planners mind.

"Yet even so, solar is 261 to 100? Not bad. Give it a decade."

Why is it, that I'm forced by government, at the point of a gun (via loan guarantees) to build half of it, on my land (public lands are my lands) for the luxury of turning over my half of the facility to private companies AND paying twice as much to these corporations upon its going into production?

And I know what socialism (crony or otherwise) is, it is the subsidation of losses and the privatation of profits, it is in the bold text above James.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 14:31 | 4439794 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Why is it, that I'm forced by government, at the point of a gun (via loan guarantees) to build half of it, on my land (public lands are my lands)

Because that's how your entire country was formed and continues to be run. It's why you have a job. It's why you can 'own' property. 

for the luxury of turning over my half of the facility to private companies AND paying twice as much to these corporations upon its going into production?

This is is how the US economy has worked for a very long time and works pretty well. And not just with resources, you're on the internet right? Well guess who financed for all the loans which made the research possible? 

The public sector is very good at research, the private sector is good at coming up with ways to sell that research back to the public at a profit. That's how the shit has worked - not my ideal system - but through your lifetime and through mine that is how it has worked. 

Which brings us to socialism... socialism is where the employees own things themselves and share the profits. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the government. I know it's hard for some of you to imagine, but there are lots of socialism based corporations around the world, independent of their governments. Mondragon is an example of this.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:03 | 4438467 Lumberjack
Lumberjack's picture

Add Audubon and the Sierra club. But then, how many bank interests are on the board.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 00:39 | 4438807 californiagirl
californiagirl's picture

But it is okay to kill endangered species and set aside environmental concerns, as long as they can call it "green" and Pelosi's brother-in-law happens to be an executive of a firm that has an investment in the the project. 

Sun, 02/16/2014 - 04:47 | 4441647 jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

as the article stated "rooftop photovoltaic solar power may be the preferred technology, generating solar on site without the need for long distance transmission. Costs for rooftop solar are rapidly declining, and will likely grow exponentially in the coming years. However, the speed at which solar expands will depend on incentives from Congress, many of which are set to expire in 2016."

big centralized projects are often recipes for disaster (see fukushima, as well as this mirrored mohave).  their large capital costs often attract corruption.  however not only is the fossil fuel industry the recipient of many government subsidies, it is also almost necessarily polluting and, since it's a fossil, limited and in some cases running out.

for when the sun doesn't shine:


Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:30 | 4438056 Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

How much is contribute of Global Warming by day? Wacko ideologue scientist is claim Anthropological Global Warming because carbon dioxide is indirect capture solar radiation, while wholesale ignore efficient solar power is directly capture heat from sun. Solar power is more worst culprit in Global Warming if Global Warming is even exist...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:44 | 4438094 666
666's picture

Just think what would happen if the computer controlled mirrors are hacked and the focal point of the concentrated solar rays is directed onto a passenger jet (Air Force 1 would be nice) or other object.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:59 | 4438130 Lumberjack
Lumberjack's picture

Here ya go.

My concern is how much money keeps going to the same firm using at least 1000 shell LLC's. upc

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:10 | 4438169 Lumberjack
Lumberjack's picture
What happened to the $120 million in closed loans (5/1613 announced by Rockland Capital and Broadway) from Deutsche Bank and Key Bank for Cape Solar Projects?

Something's up-

From Commonwealth Magazine -- Friday, January 17, 2014

News and Features: Online exclusives Broadway Electrical pulls plug on solar work No word on whether stoppage is temporary BY: BRUCE MOHL January 17, 2014

ONE OF THE state’s largest solar contractors is reportedly shutting its doors, but it was unclear on Friday whether the shutdown was temporary or permanent or why it was happening. Broadway Electrical Co. of Boston, which does electrical construction work and in recent years has moved aggressively into solar power development, stopped doing work at some of its projects yesterday, leaving customers in the lurch. Liz Argo, the special projects coordinator for the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which has hired Broadway to do several solar installations on the Cape, said Broadway workers didn’t show up at work sites on Friday. She said she had little information from the company on what was happening although Broadway officials promised to meet with her next week. “We have heard that they are winding down. We’re in a heightened state of concern,” she said. Jonathan Wienslaw, president of Broadway Electrical, couldn’t be reached for comment. Another official at Broadway declined comment, saying all information must come from Wienslaw. Last May, Gov. Deval Patrick called for a dramatic boost in the state’s solar power production during a press conference at a rooftop solar facility in South Boston installed by Broadway. Patrick and other state officials were joined at the announcement by Wienslaw.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:22 | 4438189 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

The Shadow Knows

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:57 | 4438299 strannick
strannick's picture

Where will the silver for the panels come from? In an absence of physical, can you burn JPMs SLV and Comex shorts to fire the boiler?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 10:59 | 4439256 Lumberjack
Lumberjack's picture

Iberdrola: Suddenly sour on solar thermal


Sánchez Galán, head of Iberdrola, the world’s largest renewable energy operator and a member of the council of Spain’s solar thermal association Protermosolar, had laid into the CSP sector during the call. “The 2,500 MW of solar thermal plants already preregistered could result in an additional cost of €2 billion,” he claimed after trumpeting a 3.5% rise in company profits, to EUR€2.14 billion. 

“The massive deployment of these plants at the moment has no justification. We must immediately stop the development of economically and environmentally inefficient energies. Someone has to pay for the green solar feast; we can’t carry on doing things for the few."

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:04 | 4438328 patb
patb's picture

cool idea but 2 things

1) to hit an aircraft you need some very detailed position/tracking data, that means a high res air search radar or detailed access to the GPS reporting.

2) Airplanes move fast, i'm not sure how fast the mirrors here slew, but i doubt it's much faster then 2X sidereal motion.

An Airplane high up doesn't move as fast but it's pretty far away.


it would make a cool Sci-Fi Movie opening, as a one shot especially on a car nearby on a hillside overlook or against a helicoper.


Lure the "Target" into the area and then whack them



Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:30 | 4438542 Joseff Stalin
Joseff Stalin's picture

It is easy.  The beam moves at the speed of light, much faster than the airplane.

A small change in the angle of the mirror causes a large change in the position of the spot at the target range.


To target, use one mirror to sweep the sky and a telescope to sense when the target lights up.  Use this information to calculate the angels for all the rest of the mirrors.

Sky fry.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 11:16 | 4439290 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

You really don't know how one of these things actually works, do you?

You really would need angels to make it work like that....

What you can really do it cosmic ray astronomy at night by using the mirrors to focus Cherenkov light. That has been done at smaller facilities..

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:52 | 4439697 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Global warming is most certain exist if still reliable thermometer, even if made from USSA, but solution is evade. Suggest is vokda atmospheric cooling system make safer temperature plus add party atmosphere.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:45 | 4438439 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

This is one of the dumbest projects to come along in years.  For the same cost you could have outfitted 50,000 homes with solar.  Local generation is a lot more efficient than doing it remotely in the desert and transporting the power.  During the Summer temperatures will be so high that there won't be any way to operate the condensers.  Just when you need it most it will be down.  There is one big advantage, however.  Important dignitaries can stand around and get their pictures taken with it.  I predict it will be shut down within 5 years.


Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:07 | 4438483 akak
akak's picture

But how would outfitting all those homes with individual solar panels allow the corporate-fascist entity to centralize its power generation and, hence, its power?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 18:15 | 4440451 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

akak asked:

But how would outfitting all those homes with individual solar panels allow the corporate-fascist entity to centralize its power generation and, hence, its power?

Ah, ah, the mattering bit herewith must construed being hammered with the tenacity.

Power centralytics requires adhesion on framing propaganda as selling necessitarious efficientsy benefitial to all US citizens, offuscating monitoring and control objectives.

Same phenomenum applied US citizen style on duplicitous incomes tax legend. Purpose as sold is paying for government military welfare and all that stuff. Funny how incomes tax dollars collected to IRS is pittance percentment of dollars spended from US governments. Again this objectives monitoring and control offuscated.

But hey, when you're running a scheme of extorting the weekly (or bi-weekly) and poor farming the middle class, you do what works. Probably the way to get rich.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:38 | 4438565 Joseff Stalin
Joseff Stalin's picture

Another fundamental reason it is dumb is the heat radiated off the tower is proportional to the 4th power of the temperature. See the Stefan–Boltzmann law. A large percentage of the solar power is reradiated from the tower and wasted.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 11:17 | 4439293 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

While that is indeed true, it is no where near as problem as you seem to suggest...

Having a low thermodynamic efficiency has not stopped us from doing a lot of things...

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 01:57 | 4438913 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

good points

wonder how much  insulation you could add to how many homes for the same cost. wonder what energy consumption would be saved.

passive solar for heat and architecture, roof line , shade and sun angle are the simplest and most effective methods, straw bale is a very cheap effective and renewable resource

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:26 | 4438033 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Project much?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:53 | 4438366 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Up to a thousand degrees fahrenheit Flak, thats a lot of projection over an unconfined space. But let me or you kill one of these birds & its fines and/or imprisonment.

Got the same crap going on down here, a biomass plant in Gainesville. Wood chips (its gaaaarrreeeeeen!) trucked in by diesel from surrounding order to heat a boiler for steam to turn generators.

I fully expect a moonscape devoid of any trees in twenty years around here, plus the trucks are beating the shit out of the roads.

So, progress is moving Forward!

I won't even bring up the cronies involved, per centrally planned usual ;-)

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 11:46 | 4439350 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

THat was not the projection I was referring to. it was in response to the bullshit comment...

As for biomass, you are pretty much correct...It ain't sustainable except at a level where it means diddly...

BTW, short of installing solar yourself and a battery storage system, you will be at mercy of the "statists" dumping fly ash or chemicals  in your water supply... Or if you get real lucky a nice radiation leak...

I presume that you do enjoy the benefits of electricity...

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 18:54 | 4440529 nmewn
nmewn's picture

I do enjoy the benefits of electricty, just not from GRU, which if I'm not mistaken has the highest rates in the state and is owned by the City of Gainesville, thanks in no small measure to the new biomass plant, it stay the rate

I get mine from a co-op which buys most of it from Duke (formerly Progress, formerly FP&L I believe)...and it comes from the Crystal River nuclear plant, much cheaper.

As you know, I'm not a rabid eco-freak but I do fish & hunt and we like our trees and fresh water out here, right where it is. Coke had a water plant in the region as well, permitted to pull over a million gallons a day out of the ground to put in plastic bottles to sell to city people. A-million-gallons-a-day. Finally, it shut down so the water table will recover.

Anyways, it seems we've finally found something we both agree on, the biomass plant is a "green energy" boondoggle of the highest order.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:42 | 4438082 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture



In Coalinga, CA there is a simialr setup which I believe was funded by Chevron/Standard oil. Not sure how long it has been there but I'm guessing a phone call would have saved 1.6 billion dollars in 'research'/ proof of concept money.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:59 | 4438304 patb
patb's picture

No experience in molten salt since the 70s'

it's useful to get that engineering data 

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:16 | 4438370 HedgeHammer
HedgeHammer's picture

This is ridiculous IMHO. It uses a bunch of mirrors to reflect and concentrate the sun to boil water to produce steam which in turn drives a turbine flywheel "generator" to produce power. How much to build and how much to maintain and operate not to mention that diesel fuel is a must to run the boiler after the damn sun goes down or a small forest for the fire needed to boil the damn water. Does anyone understand what "Renewable Energy" really is?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:24 | 4439622 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Powering the boiler on sun-down is not required. Any heat left needs to be used & it can't be allowed to freeze. Could it freeze in that area? I don't know, never lived in a desert.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:52 | 4437942 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

Do you 'really' want to power CA? The Lefties can sit in the dark and sing Kumbaya and the beaners can buy candles with their EBT cards...if they can't power the voting machines at least we'll be spared the likes of Piglosi and Frankenstein.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:25 | 4438031 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Although solar power only makes up about 1% of total electricity generation, it now employs 140,000 people, more than the coal industry’s almost 90,000.

What government "deciders" do with our money and jobs.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:35 | 4438062 Boris Alatovkrap
Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Capricious government is pick winner, is pick loser. Survival not of fittest or best, but of crony which is adapt best to whatever trend of day.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:01 | 4438147 Lumberjack
Lumberjack's picture

Goes back to Enron. Now it's Upc/upc wind/upc management/ IVPC/ first wind/Evergreen etc...

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 00:45 | 4438824 No Warranty
No Warranty's picture

The desert is coming.

What else to use it for?

Can't grow salad with no water.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 15:55 | 4440062 patb
patb's picture

the average home can go grid neutral with 5 KW on the roof,  the average home can

also run it's transport needs with another 2 KW.


about 30% of homes can't put in solar  so  figure 15 KW and you can self power all needs

and sell power to neighbors.


With Wind Turbines,  and Ivanpah, California can go fully renewable in 3 years.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:55 | 4438297 patb
patb's picture

1) Ivanpah uses mostly salt and aluminum mirrors.  No big thing

2) PV is using selenium and other rare earths, but, as they get smarter they will use less.


Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:09 | 4438340 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

that's what i was thinking. "this isn't very advanced technology. why did it cost so much?" at least its operational and they can start getting data as to its efficacy. when i think of actual "solar power" i'm thinking p/v arrays not some new version of "turbine turning."

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:12 | 4439583 The Chief
The Chief's picture

1,000 to 2,000 union workers. Make sense now?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 15:57 | 4440066 patb
patb's picture

It's not that expensive, it's about $5/Watt.


if ti's going to run 12 hours/day, that's not bad. It's 2X wind power but it's very smooth.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 18:51 | 4440517 The Chief
The Chief's picture

Typical steam plant technology. The plant has to be heated up everyday. You get peak power out only for a few hours a day. Max.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:09 | 4438337 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Photovoltaics, you mean. This is solar thermal technology, but I hear ya.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:43 | 4437911 Overfed
Overfed's picture

An even better question is whether it would have even been built without .gov subsidies. I highly freakin' doubt it.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:49 | 4437927 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Next thing you know they are going to be invading countries and spending billions a month and young kids lives to keep the sun shining, right?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:54 | 4437943 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Careful, ya' might give them fuckers an angle they hadn't previously thought of.....

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 02:00 | 4438915 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

they might even kill some of us

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:16 | 4439599 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

then we can make a movie for it: Team America, Solar Police!

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:51 | 4437918 HelluvaEngineer
HelluvaEngineer's picture

Pffft...this is nothing.  My prototype Mr Fusion makes 1.21 Gigawatts.  In Hollywood, they call them "Jiga-watts".

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:45 | 4438092 akak
akak's picture

Can't wait to see what the first hail storm does to this facility.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:58 | 4438301 patb
patb's picture

1) It's the middle of the desert, not a lot of hail there.

2) If you are predicting hail or see it on radar, you can  turn the mirrors to vertical.



Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:37 | 4438418 nmewn
nmewn's picture

But just think of all those "shovel ready jobs" cleaning the dust & sand off them.

Minimum wage forever never felt so good ;-)

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:59 | 4438459 jon dough
jon dough's picture

We're gonna need a bigger Swiffer...



Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:43 | 4438586 Joseff Stalin
Joseff Stalin's picture

Actually those heliocopter drones could be used to blow the dust off of the mirrors. 

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 15:58 | 4440070 patb
patb's picture

It's a job.  Beats working inside.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:23 | 4438196 prmths2
prmths2's picture

Excellent question. This is yet another solar power article that talks about power (watts) while neglecting energy (watt-hours). Why don't they state the observed peak and average daily energy production? I have been reading articles about solar energy for many years, and I can't recall seeing one that details past performance instead of talking about future potential. Does anybody have a link?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:06 | 4438331 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

I wonder how the boiler, piping and other pressure vessels hold up over time to the daily heating up and cooling down of the system. That stress and strain probably will result in excessive maintenance costs in a short period of time. We had a trash burning power plant built in the 1970's that was called the cash burning power plant due to maintenance failures before being shuttered.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 04:21 | 4439013 prmths2
prmths2's picture

Thanks for the link to the document, I've saved it for future reference although it lacks data on the cost of production.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:03 | 4440086 patb
patb's picture

RenewablesInternational has a lot of good data,  also look at "Bloomberg New Energy Finance"

they produce a lot of reports. Some public.

Bloomberg says, "Energy Cost Parity in Solar PV has been hit in a number of countries and will hit in all countries

no later then 2020", and that this is creating a tidal wave of disruption in Electricity markets and for Utilities

and that most utilities lack the management horsepower to handle this change.


watch his video talk too.


If you are really interested, the change is happening fast,  Buffet is investing into renewables.




Sat, 02/15/2014 - 10:17 | 4439194 Muppetrage
Muppetrage's picture

What's it cost to operate the sun? What's the cost of Cheney exempting the gas and oil industry from the clean water act? What's the futures markets cost me in everything I buy? What's the cost of putting a gun in kids hands and sending them off to the Middle East to fight for the "freedom" to secure oil that apparently never runs out? Does anybody really believe that subsidies matter anymore, I mean aren't we way past that point? I for one can't wait to have solar panels on my roof or have them built into every piece of my homes exterior.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:14 | 4439591 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

to soak in heat for the home? Or to wastefully produce uncaptured heat while siphoning 10% of that energy into electricity?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 14:02 | 4439574 The Chief
The Chief's picture

Interesting story.

The technology behind this behemoth comes from Israel (the system that aims the mirrors for optimal angle of attack).  I wonder if this connection explains the ease of syndicating that sizable debt and the US taxpayer's loan guarantee?  That's right, Joe Public. YOU are backstopping this monster. I wonder who exactly was behnd the lobbying effort to capture investors like Google and NRG. If this doesn't make the case for there being an unholy union of Google and our government, nothing does.

This facility will likely make peak output for (maybe) 2-2.5 hours a day. Shades of Solyndra?  Why build it? Well, that's easy. It probably kept 1,000 to 2,000 highly paid union workers employed for 2-3 years. 

Tax credits? How many dollars will US taxpayers pay per year for this politically over-blown nightmare? Bill Clinton endorsed this site with a personal visit. I wonder if it can stay solvent through the next election cycle. Not likely. On top of the tax credits (which are easily monetizable), you have $1.6 Bil of our money at risk if she blows up commercially.

There has to be a lot of hate aimed at the promise makers for this company right about now. This one isnt just politically owned by Obama, its owned by Clinton too.....oh, and Arnold, our favorite Democrat in Republican clothing. They are all wretched monsters but the D's seem to be a bit more wretched than the R's.

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 15:49 | 4445433 rotagen
rotagen's picture

If we build a giant BADGER......

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:37 | 4437888 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

How many birds has it killed?


""...the BrightSource system appears to be scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit...."

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:56 | 4437947 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Free choice.  The bird chose to fly through the beams of light....

Evolution will promote more sensetive birds, who avoid the beams of light.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:44 | 4438582 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

Or birds that don't fly at all.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:57 | 4437949 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

Well that's gonna twist some hippie's nuts....."It's solar, but it's killing birds...BUT IT'S SOLAR....BUT IT'S KILLING BIRDS!!!!!!!!"

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:05 | 4437971 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

It's wind but it's killing birds...BUT IT'S WIND...BUT IT'S KILLING BIRDS!!!!!!  Go live in a mud hut and f'off you Greenie Weenie but noooooo, gotta have the Internet and smart phones and Starbucks and the Prius and the nauseaum.  I like nothing more than to take those fuckers off at the kneecaps verbally when they start this crap.  If only I was allowed to compost them, they would actually be useful.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:11 | 4437987 divide_by_zero
divide_by_zero's picture

Elsewhere in California, Audubon reports on that other bird-murdering technology, what James Delingpole likes to call "bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco crucifixes":

"Every year, an estimated 75 to 110 Golden Eagles are killed by the wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA). Some lose their wings, others are decapitated, and still others are cut in half. The lethal turbines, numbering roughly 6,000, are arrayed across 50,000 acres of rolling hills in northeastern Alameda and southeastern Contra Costa counties."

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:40 | 4438063 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Holy shit.  They're killing 60-100 eagles a year?  Carpet bomb the fuckers.  And don't spare the depleted uraniam shells.   Eagles love that shit.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:44 | 4438080 akak
akak's picture

On the plus side, I hear that eagles taste just like chicken.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:50 | 4438107 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

actually eagle tastes between a whooping crane and a perigrine...still good though

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:52 | 4438124 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

As Yellen's husband would say (does she have one?), tastes like Manatee.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:58 | 4438132 akak
akak's picture

And manatee, of course, tastes just like tuna, which is as everyone knows "the chicken of the sea".

And we're back to where we started. 

EVERYTHING tastes just like chicken.


(Well, except beets, which taste like dirt and mildew.)

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:02 | 4438469 jon dough
jon dough's picture

Mickey-D's new...




The dirt and mildew taste you already love, now with extra Chikun Flavor!


(Blue Fibrous Nasties included at no extra charge!)

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 02:04 | 4438918 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

mmm mildew greens

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:33 | 4438546 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


On the plus side, I hear that eagles taste just like chicken.

...and the slow-motion ones are easy to catch.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:14 | 4437992 wmbz
wmbz's picture

The bleedinghearts will over look this, because it does not suit their plan. Solar power is crap, except to subsidize a house or two! I have been hearing about how it will change our power supply since the 50's.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:05 | 4440092 patb
patb's picture


It's here. Tell me when it's at a price point you can accept

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:39 | 4437891 HedgeAccordingly
HedgeAccordingly's picture

blow me solar -

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:37 | 4437892 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

What happens when it is 02:00 am in the morning and I'm freezing my bollocks off. Solar power plentiful when you don't fucking need it.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:43 | 4437904 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Commercial-scale energy generation systems that depend on Goldilocks weather conditions are just fucking stupid and a great way to sucker tax-payers out of their $$.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:29 | 4438037 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Right. Junk me. But so far there is no viable "green" energy source that can stand on its own. Solar doesn't work at night or on cloudy days. Wind only works when the wind blows, so long as it doesn't blow too hard. I stand by my statement; weather-dependent energy generation is not viable, and won't be until storage technology undergoes a vast improvement.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:35 | 4438069 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Perhaps it's just me, but I think you're being junked for advancing the straw man argument that solar power is supposed to replace all other energy, as opposed to reducing the need for other varieties.  It's not a black and white equation, except for idealogues for whom it is by definition I suppose.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:03 | 4438146 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Well, the main problem I have with it is that none of it is self-sustaining. It all requires massive government subsidies, kinda like Amtrak.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:11 | 4438163 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

You mean us people have to get together and try to develop an energy supply and chip in to get one that doesn't require killing on a massive scale (which also requires people getting together and funding the military)?  Now I get it.  Yeah, let's stick with what works.  Massive military spending and clean up of the occasional environmental disaster (paid for by you and me) to keep the oil companies in business.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:58 | 4438313 Overfed
Overfed's picture

You mean we all have to have our money taken at gunpoint and funnelled to big dollar .gov crony contractors to give us a better future? I'm really not down with that. I'd rather just keep my $ and buy my own damn alternative power scheme. BTW, hydropower and natgas don't require military spending or environmental cleanups. You should know by now my feelings on interventionism and nuke power.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 00:49 | 4438835 No Warranty
No Warranty's picture

America can't have trains because it would be like so fucking convenient to leave the damn car at home?

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:10 | 4439571 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

I don't see that.

I do see government interference in everything from gold & silver to farming & energy production but you have to stop yourself from being blinded by the basics. You need detail. PV solar is not sustainable because the technology is too inefficient. Thermal-solar's another story but centralizing it is a Fail.

Electricity transmission with losses over long distances is a Fail. Local production means less transmission & deliberately using induction to transmit power, not wires, may lead to more avoidance of losses we normally get from high-voltage AC grids.


Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:07 | 4439562 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

tides & winds are fairly reliable.
Just don't make it too small.
Cover a lot of territory & you'll have what you need.
By all means we should also have thorium nuclear but not this nonsense of solid rod fuels. They are very wasteful & merely give opportunity for nuclear weapons.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:50 | 4437933 css1971
css1971's picture

Um, at 2am you use gas generated power. At 2pm you use solar generated power.

Result: You use less gas.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:00 | 4437967 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

You assume there will always be gas. This is the transition.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:16 | 4438005 css1971
css1971's picture

Google syngas (or producer gas).

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:00 | 4439539 MeelionDollerBogus
MeelionDollerBogus's picture

nat-gas runs out when bio-waste runs out. We can make natural gas (not gasoline) from degradig sewage.
I was decently certain you didn't mean petrol gasoline liquid.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:39 | 4438234 SDShack
SDShack's picture

Gas is only one cost. In this scenario. consumers have to pay for 2 generating plants, each of which in reality will run at less than full capacity for half the time. This means you lose economies of scale in construction, production, and maintenance. Good luck with that cost/benefit analysis for either of those scenarios. That's why they need massive govt. subsidies to build. No way these are economically viable, or produce the lowest KW/H for the consumer. The only clean renewable energy that shows economic viability through the 24hr demand cycle without massive govt subsidies is geo-thermal and hydro-electric. Everything else is scam crony capitalism.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:09 | 4440100 patb
patb's picture

Gas Turbine plants are very cheap to build, they are expensive to operate.

Wind Plants are more expensive to build but cheap to operate.

Together it's a little bit more to build but, it's a nice complement

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 19:03 | 4440555 The Chief
The Chief's picture

Um, you have no idea how modern transmission systems and ISOs work. Your method as suggested by your, um, email, will not work.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:10 | 4437980 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Maybe it is a really dumb idea to heat with electric...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:22 | 4438022 Overfed
Overfed's picture

You're absolutely right. I'm putting in a woodstove this summer.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:43 | 4438243 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Just be sure to get your wood heater before the new fickle fascist fucktard fiction EPA regs set in at year end...

oldschool Wood or Coal burning with a smaller footprint that fake fireplace boxes

(or if you love building shit or driving the wife nutz- google rocket mass stove heater, but I wouldn't put a wood burning stove in the kitchen, unless you prefer sleeping on the couch)

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 01:00 | 4438648 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Fuck those motherfuckers. I'll install any goddamn woodstove that I want, I ain't getting a permit, and I ain't having the installation inspected. BTW, there's some pretty cool (and spendy) cast iron stuff on that site you linked.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 13:48 | 4439679 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

The googlebot can always find it cheaper, but I like my specs straight from the manufacturer. You can actually get a conversion kit for a standard 55gal drum for under $60 from an amazon drone or the local home despot (I plan on hoarding a few myself later this year). Heat reclaimers and multiple dampers are worth the extra money (unless you own your forest and have a kid named Paul Bunyan). Any heater will work best when located closer to the building center with a long relatively horizontal chimney to the perimeter to better dissipate the heat inside the house, before doing your part to help global warming.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 17:10 | 4440259 Overfed
Overfed's picture

I plan on finding a relatively newer one on CL, and then I'll add a heat reclaimer/exchanger as well. Make it as efficient as possible. The .gov telling me what I can or can't have like I'm fuckin' child just really chaps my ass.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 23:53 | 4438738 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Did you know play doh was invented to remove soot from the walls inside your house? People used to heat and cook inside ther houses with coal and wood. Used to.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 10:13 | 4439189 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

no shit?   that's really cool. 

thanks for sharing that little tidbit.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:10 | 4440106 patb
patb's picture

we used to have killer smogs in cities too

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:22 | 4438024 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

I know how to store day light energy, it is extremely expensive. It is an option only open to the wealthy.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:26 | 4438036 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

For solar: A bunch of car batteries and some inverters are only open to the wealthy???

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:17 | 4438064 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

I am talking about heating, not powering some LED's.

Do the math, heat a home when it is -1deg C outside air temp. My house in winter takes 10kWh a day to heat, it is well insulated.

Take my word for it I’m not being contrarian for the sake of it, renewables have an Achilles heel, they are generally abundant when they are least needed. To adequately heat my house without worrying about winter solar input I would need a thermal store equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool. How practical is that?


Fri, 02/14/2014 - 21:04 | 4438322 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Even before storage cost most people neglect to consider battery weight since for VRLA batteries the specific energy is about 40 KG per watt hour.

Then you can worry about the $100/kWh just for batteries and inverters and the number of days of capacity you need once you're sure you have a floor slab that can support the battery rack weight.

And then there's the cost of the capturing/producing the "green" energy via wind or water turbines or solar panels or human hamster wheels...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:10 | 4438486 ArgentoFisico
ArgentoFisico's picture

never heard of H2 to store energy ?

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 23:55 | 4438739 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Actually even VRLA batteries generate H2 which is why the ventilation calculations are so important. But right now, absent subsides and the playing the "on a long enough timeline game" hydrogen fuel cells are more for Tom Perkin's when decides he doesn't need another $350k watch, and the products have barely been available for any timeline much less the PROVEN 20 & 30 lives for VRLAs. But given time to improve themselves and develop economies of scale they should be viable.

LiOn batteries should be cheaper than VRLA on a lifecylce basis (absent a feakish use pattern) and the specific energy is 4x more efficient. But in the end everyone's situation is slightly different, and no one wants to sit down and do their own homework, but yet all the "off the shelf" packages seem to SUCK, and often over promise and under deliver.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 06:44 | 4439020 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

That should be 100kWh per day.

Sat, 02/15/2014 - 16:11 | 4440109 patb
patb's picture


Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:36 | 4438067 Clycntct
Clycntct's picture

Bu but but we can create a massive storage system for it. When it's producing we store all that excess generation? What no excess? Ok We will commission a study.

Now 1.3 billion for that and were good to get it started.

And don't forget it's for the children.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:50 | 4438602 Joseff Stalin
Joseff Stalin's picture

Keep putting sleping bags under and over you.  Usually three  is all it takes. 


Also 7 layers of alternating aluminum foil and paper makes in insulation sufficient for cryogenic temperatures.  So insulate your sleeping room that way.  

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:39 | 4437896 Occams_Chainsaw
Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Given the money they are pouring into this I'd think Solar Towers (convection) might be more feasible and they would run day/night.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:14 | 4437997 css1971
css1971's picture

If you built the collector high enough you could live under the collector base too.

This is the Spanish prototype one:

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:47 | 4438255 Occams_Chainsaw
Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Nice.  I think the concept is to get something much taller and have the ground shroud not only heat the air below but also serve as a greenhouse.  If they are tall enough they literally can run day and night.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:41 | 4437903 mattgallis
mattgallis's picture

All those poor immigrants who will be cleaning the mirrors....

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:43 | 4437910 HyBrasilian
HyBrasilian's picture

Leo K will be cleaning the mirrors...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 20:33 | 4438224 akak
akak's picture

After having lunch with the latest up-and-coming Greek pension fund manager.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:48 | 4437920 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

How many sand storms to pit and break the mirrors. 

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:48 | 4437921 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

     I wonder who got the mirror cleaning contract? It's got to be union or state/federal with all that job security...

  They should use the land under the mirrors to farm mushrooms. /s

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:46 | 4437922 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

Pitchforks? Guillotines? Too old fashioned. Give me a Krispy Banker on the Tower of Power.  

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 18:50 | 4437934 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

Nail guns are cheaper.

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:06 | 4437973 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

A hammer is even cheaper still!!

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 19:17 | 4438004 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

One hammer to render them unconscious,

One nail gun to keep them in place,

One solar source to fry them,

One sunrise per Banker to erase...

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 22:10 | 4438495 the0ther
the0ther's picture


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