World's Largest Solar Plant Comes Online

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Kennedy via OilPrice.com,

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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rtalcott's picture

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

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

Skateboarder's picture

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

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.

http://energyfactspa.com/alternative-energy/page/green-jobs

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. 

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?

kaiserhoff's picture

How much power does it generate at night?

Stackers's picture

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

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)

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...

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!...lol.

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. 

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.

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)

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?

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. 

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."

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_25134528/huge-ivanpah-solar-power-plant-opens-industry-booms

 

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?

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/16561-focus-cheneys-...

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. 

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.

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. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation

Lumberjack's picture

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

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. 

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:http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-tech/energy-product...

 

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...

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.

Lumberjack's picture

Here ya go.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/13/the-2-2-billion-bird-scorching-sol...

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

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?  

http://www.powerintelligence.com/Article/3206899/Rockland-Capital-Wraps-Cape-Cod-Solar-Deal.html

Something's up-

From Commonwealth Magazine -- Friday, January 17, 2014

http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/News-and-Features/Online-exclusives/2014/Winter/004-Broadway-Electrical-pulls-plug-on-solar-work.aspx#.UuF1dPYo5cw

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.

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?

Lumberjack's picture

Iberdrola: Suddenly sour on solar thermal

 

http://social.csptoday.com/technology/iberdrola-suddenly-sour-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."

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

 

 

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.

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..

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.

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.

 

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?

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.

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.

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...

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

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 counties...to burn...in 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 ;-)

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...

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 leader...lol.

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.

lasvegaspersona's picture

zaphod

yep

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.

patb's picture

No experience in molten salt since the 70s'

it's useful to get that engineering data 

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?