The world’s largest-ever solar thermal plant opens in California, courtesy of the Obama DOE

posted at 1:21 pm on February 14, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

On Thursday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was in sunny California at the picture-perfect ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand-new Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, an exemplar of what we’re told is cutting-edge solar technology and the lucky recipient of a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee (note: the total cost of the project is $2.2 billion). As the WSJ report notes, however, the first-of-its-kind solar plant may be among the last:

The $2.2 billion solar farm, which spans over five square miles of federal land southwest of Las Vegas, includes three towers as tall as 40-story buildings. Nearly 350,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect sunlight onto boilers atop the towers, creating steam that drives power generators.

The owners of the project— NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy Inc., the company that developed the “tower power” solar technology—call the plant a major feat of engineering that can light up about 140,000 homes a year.

Hey, that sounds pretty sweet, right? So what’s the problem?

Well. For starters — how do we subsidize thee? Let us count the ways:

Ivanpah is among the biggest in a spate of power-plant-sized solar projects that have begun operating in the past two years, spurred in part by a hefty investment tax credit that expires at the end of 2016. Most of them are in California, where state law requires utilities to use renewable sources for a third of the electricity they sell by 2020. …

That makes for expensive power. Experts have estimated that electricity from giant solar projects will cost at least twice as much as electricity from conventional sources. But neither the utilities that have contracted to buy the power nor state regulators have disclosed what the price will be, only that it will be passed on to electricity customers.

Federal loan guarantee? Check. Tax credits? Check. Portfolio standards? Check. And what are consumers, a.k.a. taxpayers, getting for the “investment” that the federal and state governments have so astutely made on their behalf? Higher energy bills, that’s what. The Journal notes that Ivanpah costs about four times as much as a conventional natural gas-fired plant, but will produce far less electricity and take up a lot more land. That’s a sweet deal right there.

But here’s a cherry for the top of this subsidy sundae: BrightSource is thinking about building another tower-based solar plant east of Palm Springs, but California’s Energy Commission recommended in December that the company stick to more conventional solar technologies. Pourquoi?

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

The company, which is based in Oakland, Calif., reported finding dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months, while workers were testing the plant before it started operating in December. …

Regulators said they anticipated that some birds would be killed once the Ivanpah plant started operating, but that they didn’t expect so many to die during the plant’s construction and testing. The dead birds included a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks and a variety of warblers and sparrows. State and federal regulators are overseeing a two-year study of the facility’s effects on birds.

Unexpectedly, as ever.

I’ve said this before in regards to similarly subsidized and bird-killing wind farms, and I’ll say it again: As with all economic decisions we make, any energy source we decide to use is going to come with its own particular set of tradeoffs. There are plenty of industrial processes already in place that kill a lot of birds each year, and bird deaths could very well be a reasonable price to pay for solar energy, particularly if it’s putting a remote and requisitely sunny piece of the California desert to good use. The issue, of course, is that solar energy’s other tradeoffs — i.e., relentless taxpayer subsidization and higher prices than other readily available sources — are nowhere near worth the amount of electricity they actually succeed in producing.

I seriously have nothing against solar energy, and indeed, I’d bet that with continued technological innovation, solar energy could eventually be an affordable and practical way to diversify our energy portfolio in certain regions — but the deep government “assistance” that both wind and solar have received for decades now is a decidedly poor way to help them achieve the type of price efficiency that would help get them to that advanced stage, nor is the money diverted from more profitable uses a way to achieve the type of robust economic growth that could help spur along that very type of research and development. It’s a costly and bass-ackwards way to go about things, and a disservice to alternative energy in the long run.


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Comment pages: 1 2

By the way, where are all the “environmentalists” that always complaint about fossil fuels and ‘how much land people take’? Even though the population is using less than 5% of the available land in the US, and “sustainability committees” in each city keep pushing everyone into more cramped spaces to avoid urban sprawl, rarely those same groups seem to have an issue with ‘greener’ technologies using 10-20 times more space than fossil fuel production does.

ptcamn on February 14, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Who wants to bet that there is a terrestrial weather station nearby that will pick up the temperature from this “solar farm” and be used as an excuse to say “see? the planet is warming!!!”.

ptcamn on February 14, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Not possible if you are pulling energy (electricity) away from the area.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM

I think you missed ptcamn’s point.
What would the readings be from a weather station sitting next to that 1000 degree generator?
They have a history of locating weather stations right next to heat sources.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Whoa! I just drove past this last week and wondered what it was.

OrdinaryAverageGuy on February 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

testing

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:47 PM

thermodynamics won’t allow that

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:50 PM

it ate the explanation 3 times

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:50 PM

they would have to mount the thermometer in the middle of the ring of mirrors for that to happen

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

they would have to mount the thermometer in the middle of the ring of mirrors for that to happen

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

I believe that was ptcamn’s point (with perhaps a small degree of sarc) – wouldn’t put it past them to do something like that.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Reality:

Petroleum now.

Nuclear fission in the near future.

Nuclear fusion (hopefully) in the long term.

All this other crap is so much nonsense if you want to maintain developed standards of living

BTW, why don’t the global warming freaks support nuclear power?

Art Vandelay on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Hmm. Costs aside, this doesn’t seem to be the most efficient way to generate electricity from the sun… I’m no expert though.

I would think traditional solar panels would produce a greater yield at lower costs than this would. The problem with solar ‘farms’ in my understanding is that they don’t have a way to store the power they collect very well. In terms of energy, we have terrible storage capabilities.

Please, correct me if I’m wrong (or validate me if I’m right [crosses fingers]) but unless we develop better battery storage of power, having huge solar farms in deserts will never be a feasible source of renewable energy… plus the poor power grid. It has to be generated near the end use area.

Effay5 on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

All this other crap is so much nonsense if you want to maintain developed standards of living
Art Vandelay on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

That would assume the left actually wants us to maintain our developed standards of living. They don’t.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Effay5 on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

There is. Use solar panels only for heating. It either displaces gas/oil in the winter for heating the house, or gas/oil in the summer for hot water.

anything else and you spend ridiculous amounts of money on electronics.

My way works with a 12 guage extension cord.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM

thermodynamics won’t allow that
WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:50 PM

How so?
Solar has a less than 50% efficiency to convert that light into electrical energy. Most of the rest of the energy is given off as infrared and heat. Additionally, solar panels function less efficiently the warmer they get (ironic right) and convert even less to electricity at higher temperatures.

The extra heat certainly is conveyed to the surrounding environment.

It is a legitimate question to see if there are any weather stations locate in any proximity to this project.

airupthere on February 14, 2014 at 4:07 PM

My way works with a 12 guage extension cord.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Well, I was aiming more at the commercial aspect of mass quantities. I think I have a decent understanding of small scale applications, but I wasn’t aware whether or not large scale operations were feasible.

Effay5 on February 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

airupthere on February 14, 2014 at 4:07 PM

It’s not a true “generator”. It’s an absorber. It absorbs the light that would otherwise heat the area, converts it to electricity and then ships that power somewhere else.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:09 PM

0Solar

Bmore on February 14, 2014 at 4:10 PM

…Unless your talking townhomes of 200 sq feet.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Shh! That’s Part II of Barry’s plan to green America.

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM

call the plant a major feat of engineering that can light up about 140,000 homes a year.

392Mw. Now what’s the cost per Mw over the life of the plant. Fuel cost is low, of course, but how about maintenance and operating costs.

Oldnuke on February 14, 2014 at 4:15 PM

It’s not a solar plant, it’s a huge chicken barbeque, except most of the birds don’t taste like chicken.

Dusty on February 14, 2014 at 4:16 PM

and how pray tell do you store solar enegery? 4 billion lithium ion batteries?

Pegcity on February 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Take dead plants and animals, layer them underground for a gazillion years and then them out as oil and coal.

Oldnuke on February 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

but I wasn’t aware whether or not large scale operations were feasible.

Effay5 on February 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Spain has given up on it.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

It’s not a solar plant, it’s a huge chicken barbeque, except most of the birds don’t taste like chicken.

Dusty on February 14, 2014 at 4:16 PM

How do you until you’ve tried them?
;)

Rattlesnake tends to taste like rabbit.
Water moccasin tends to taste like fish.
So I guess it depends on what the birds out in the desert eat…

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

From an engineering point of view, it’s not very efficient to try to focus reflected light from 350,000 mirrors to the top of three 40-story towers. It takes a lot of electronics to rotate each mirror so that its reflected sunlight is focused on the top of a tower. Reflected sunlight traveling through over 400 feet of air will lose a lot of heat to the air, and if the air around the towers is at 1000 F, the focal point is even hotter, leading to a huge radiant heat loss, whose rate is proportional to the fourth power of temperature.

It would be much more efficient to set up an array of parabolic mirrors, arranged in east-west rows, with a tube carrying water running along the focal axis of each row. The mirrors could be tilted up or down to follow the elevation of the sun over the horizon. A pump and manifold would distribute water to the upstream, cold side of the tubes, and another manifold would gather steam from the downstream hot side to be sent to the generator. There would be much less heat loss from such a system, and it would be less likely that a bird would fly through superheated air.

If birds are being scorched by the Ivanpah solar plant in December, when the sun is lowest in the sky, how many birds will be scorched in June?

Steve Z on February 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

but I wasn’t aware whether or not large scale operations were feasible.

Effay5 on February 14, 2014 at 4:08 PM

In fact, it was their cancelled contracts that brought decent german made panels into the 1$ per watt range.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:23 PM

they would have to mount the thermometer in the middle of the ring of mirrors for that to happen

[WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM]

So you are saying that this system is 100% efficient, i.e., there are no losses in the form of heat to the environment? For instance, the mirrors don’t heat up, or if they do, the system is designed for 100% of that heat to be captured and turned into electricity which will be carried away from the area. And you’d argue that in the process of reflecting light onto boilers 40 stories in the air so that steam is created for generating electricity will not have any heat losses to the environment with that heat then carried downwind?

Dusty on February 14, 2014 at 4:29 PM

So you are saying that this system is 100% efficient, i.e., there are no losses in the form of heat to the environment? For instance, the mirrors don’t heat up, or if they do, the system is designed for 100% of that heat to be captured and turned into electricity which will be carried away from the area. And you’d argue that in the process of reflecting light onto boilers 40 stories in the air so that steam is created for generating electricity will not have any heat losses to the environment with that heat then carried downwind?

Dusty on February 14, 2014 at 4:29 PM

even if it were only 5% efficient, the net effect would be a cooling one on the surrounding area.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM

even if it were only 5% efficient, the net effect would be a cooling one on the surrounding area.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Ya lost me there.
I don’t see how you can get a net cooling effect anywhere near this system unless you’re using algore AGW logic.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 4:35 PM

OK lets try it this way.

Put a solar panel next to the strongest light in your house. Pump that electricity outside and dissipate it outside.

check you natural gas bills.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Progressive War on Birds…Windmills and Solar

It’s an avian holocaust…but it’s saving the planet or something…

workingclass artist on February 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM

While I’m frustrated and angered at this latest govt boondoggle which is “for our own good” that did make me laugh at least.

Yakko77 on February 14, 2014 at 4:42 PM

If it were cost effective to make this sort of plant, no one would wait the time it takes to get all the government grants and kickbacks lined up.

ajacksonian on February 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

140,000 homes, huh?

That takes care of a small city. Maybe.

Nuclear is about 1 billion times better than that.

That’s the direction we should be moving.

Good Lt on February 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

This is just BS that they throw out to impress people unfamiliar with power plants and electrical energy. All power plants have a rated electrical output stated in watts. Most plants these days are large enough to have it expressed in megawatts. That 140,000 home number is based on what they say is the average use per home. That number is often fudged to make it more impressive. This particular plant, as far as I can tell, has a rated output of 392 megawatts. Just guessing but I’d bet that even that number is merely the name plate on the generator and they don’t really know if the plant will actually produce that much power or not. Sometimes things don’t run as designed. We still have to see what it’s various output factors turn out to be too. What it’s operating and maintenance costs are. Right now they can’t even tell you with any certainty what the $$/Mw production cost is going to be. Not enough run time. Anything they throw out right now is just a guess. I wouldn’t say nuclear is better yet it’s just more proven. Nuclear, right now, is having some trouble competing with natural gas on a cost per Mw basis. NatGas is pretty cheap right now. Still nuclear plants make wonderful base units and when coupled with natural gas plants for load following you get a very stable system capable of reacting to rapid load changes. Well as long as your system has sufficient capacity, that is.

Oldnuke on February 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

OK lets try it this way.
Put a solar panel next to the strongest light in your house. Pump that electricity outside and dissipate it outside.
check you natural gas bills.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Uh, no, not even if the solar panel was 100% efficient.
You are injecting electrical energy into the house to go through the bulb, converting that to light and heat, then converting a small percentage of that light into electricity in the solar panel, then taking that resultant electrical energy out – all with transmission inefficiencies and losses to heat along the way.
There will NOT be a net cooling effect in your house.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

There will NOT be a net cooling effect in your house.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

your algore logic missed the point. Your natural gas bills WILL go up as you remove heat from your house.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Del Dolemonte on February 14, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Any headcount on falcons from the existing wind farm?

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Not yet-it only went online in January of 2013 so no data has been generated yet on that stat AFAIK.

But earlier this week, all 24 towers stood idle Curious.

Del Dolemonte on February 14, 2014 at 4:57 PM

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Are you assuming all solar radiation is absorbed as heat? If so, this is inaccurate and may be why everyone is talking past each other.

airupthere on February 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

your algore logic missed the point. Your natural gas bills WILL go up as you remove heat from your house.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Sorry, but you’re the one using algore logic.
In the setup you specified, you will not be removing heat from the house. You will be injecting electricity into the house, converting some of the electricity to light, then converting some of that light back into electricity, which is then taken out, and you’re generating heat IN the house every step of the way. The little bit of electricity you take back out of the house can’t possibly offset the heat put in.
You need to review your thermodynamics, along with some real world engineering.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Just a quick look at the facility from NREL gets some interesting stats, like the gross energy efficiency being 28.72%

Now that is actually good compared to solar electric panels which range in the sub-20% range and used to top out around 12-15%

They also have a fossil fuel back-up in the way of a natural gas plant.

Strange to spend so much time and energy on solar when we are a global leader in natural gas production, to the point we ship it overseas.

Well I guess the ‘environmentalists’ prefer crispy birds over a bit of carbon dioxide which helps plants grow.

ajacksonian on February 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM

When this plant goes bankrupt George Hamilton will pick it up for peanuts.

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 5:03 PM

even if it were only 5% efficient, the net effect would be a cooling one on the surrounding area.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

[WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM]

See, here is your problem. You assume the net energy delivered to the area is the same whether the plant is there or not. That is not true. Without the plant there, the energy delivered is X but that X is made up of Y which represents that energy which is absorbed and Z that energy which is reflected out of the area.

With the plant there X is the same, but Y (now Y’) is increased enormously at the expense of the Z (now Z’) which used to be reflected out. Now it may be possible to set up a design wherein the all that increase in X (let’s call it X”, that being X’-X) is collected by the plant without any additional losses, because if there are additional losses then there is addition energy left in the area.

I just don’t see solar as being that efficient. Neither do I see the description of the design to be one that would process the equivalent of 100% of the additional energy captured by the area.

You can make your assertions all you want but you are proving anything close to it being, as you say, impossible.

Dusty on February 14, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Are you assuming all solar radiation is absorbed as heat? If so, this is inaccurate and may be why everyone is talking past each other.

airupthere on February 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

No. I am not. I am saying you CANNOT pull 392 megawatts out of a geographic area and expect that area to get warmer.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

It is you, who need to review the laws of energy. I give up on you.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

This was fun. Physics, gentleman, physics.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Saw the skeleton of this abortion on the drive to LV last August. The site is to the West of, and fairly close to the highway (within a mile at the nearest point), and is on the slope of an East-facing hillside. So when those mirrors are tracking the setting sun, there just might be a chance of concentrated reflections directed at passing vehicles, putting drivers at risk for a momentary compromise of their vision.

But I’m sure the DOE and State of CA have studied all that…

Freelancer on February 14, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Or… you could just stick some solar panels on your roof. Nah, too easy and not nearly corrupt enough.

Mojave Mark on February 14, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Unless they manage to repeal the laws of physics, solar will never be more than a tiny fraction of energy produced. You cannot collect more energy than falls upon the collector. You cannot magnify the amount collected.

And the absolute limit will be even less until more efficient and less toxic batteries are invented. Current technology can’t handle it. And since solar power is only produced during the day, and cannot be depended upon due to cloud cover, it cannot even be part of the peak supply.

It doesn’t matter how much more power you can squeeze at the margins of current technology for solar, it will never be worth the billions being wasted on it.

Adjoran on February 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Art Vandelay on February 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

I’d prefer a good deal more money going to Thorium and Pebble Bed reactor research… especially the PB reactors (they’ve been having some tech issues with that approach).

But noooooo… the right pockets can’t get lined with those sorta things.

(Not to mention the fact that success would mean cheap energy… that runs contrary to the wishes of the powers that be.)

CPT. Charles on February 14, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Adjoran on February 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Solar is a pleasant green fantasy, suitable for visual and print media, and enriching connected people.

But you do hit on the primary snag… energy storage. Practically all the alternative energy options only work in conjunction with a ‘reservoir’-style system (like a personal wind generator linked to bank of deep-cycle batteries).

The majority of these green energy fantasists haven’t the faintest clue how a regional/national energy grid works, hence their well-meaning, but unhelpful ideas.

Besides, greens are liars. They don’t want cheap/ plentiful energy (which would help developing economies). They claim they want ‘clean’ energy, but lobby for the destruction of hydroelectric dams… for the fishies.

Unless you objectively understand the intentions of all parties involved, your just wasting your time (and money).

CPT. Charles on February 14, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Well before we beat this concept up…really it should be compared to the first nuke plants deployed. It is a new technology.

Regarding how to store energy, the 2nd generation of this tech would be to use salt, not water. The focused light heats the salt and melts it. Then the heat is converted to electricity. Actually that is all a nuke plant is, it is a giant team kettle that converts heat to electricity. When using molten salt, if the salt is heated hot enough, the retained heat in the molten salt lasts through the night and so it can run 24×7.

It is best to think of this as a proof of concept. If it works, improvements will be made. As for the birds — screw ‘em.

SunSword on February 14, 2014 at 8:20 PM

It is best to think of this as a proof of concept. If it works, improvements will be made. As for the birds — screw ‘em.

SunSword on February 14, 2014 at 8:20 PM

But oil companies are fined thousands of dollars for every bird that stumbles into a pool of oil? Why the hypocrisy?

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 8:52 PM

About three months ago, my son and I drove from Northern California (wish it was it’s own state…) to the Mojave desert to see the Amboy Cinder Cone (250 foot high extinct volcano) and some other volcanic features, as well as Pioneer Town where they used to film Westerns and the bizarre geological formations around it – which on a quiet evening before sundown with no noise, I mean no sound whatsoever, no wind, no birds, nothing makes one feel as though you are on another planet…

Anyway, we drove by this solar plant and took the road off the freeway to get a closer look. As we were driving toward it, both of us remarked that we felt sorry for the birds in the area.

Birds are attracted to areas with features that they think might provide their prey shelter from the sun’s heat – such as a solar reflector.

It is a huge facility and very impressive in terms of the engineering involved. But they are going to fry a lot of birds.

DrDeano on February 14, 2014 at 8:59 PM

It is best to think of this as a proof of concept. If it works, improvements will be made. As for the birds — screw ‘em.

SunSword on February 14, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Except, of course, it takes up 5 square miles (poor snakes), and the birds, hey don’t fuchh with my pintails.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Well, dent, I apologize. I assume from the way I worded it you would realize, the light bulb was already on. Much like the sun. Otherwise I would have said “strongest light bulb and turn it on.”

Best I can do.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 9:10 PM

It would be really cool if someone could find a rare wildflower, or nearly extinct snail living in this part of the desert.

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 9:12 PM

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 9:12 PM

You know….you’re a sick b@st@rd. I love it.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 9:30 PM

I’m trying to get a mental image of this thing:

It sounds like a large complex concave mirror all focusing heat and light at a single point.

And they’re surprised by how many birds are getting scorched?

Do these “scientists” not understand how a solar oven works?

To save birds, they might consider putting the boilers at the bottom of large pits, and using lenses to focus the energy downward, instead of upward.

Just thinkin’ it might save a few birds.

arik1969 on February 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

It is you, who need to review the laws of energy. I give up on you.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Do you have any real engineering or scientific background, or are you just pulling this stuff out of your @ss just to be a troll?
The only way anything happens as you describe it is if you completely ignore the energy you’re putting INTO the system to begin with, and/or ignore the energy lost to heat in the transmission and conversion processes.

In the power plant, there is a massive amount of solar energy put INTO he entire system, far more than the equivalent of the 392 mW pulled out. Only a small percentage of the solar energy put in gets converted into the electrical energy that eventually gets pulled out. The rest goes to heat. Laws of Thermodynamics.

Same with the solar panel and light bulb in the house. You have to pump electrical energy INTO the house, a very small percentage of which eventually gets pulled out from the solar panel. The rest goes to heat. Laws of Thermodynamics.
In both cases, because of the heat generated, you cannot and will have the immediate area get colder.

I’d let you use my 32 year old Thermodynamics textbook to look it up for yourself if you were here. But I’m really starting to think even that wouldn’t help you.

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 11:28 PM

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 11:28 PM

My scientific background probably far exceeds yours you insect. I tried to be civil, but you can’t understand even rudimentary energy.

kiss off.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 11:45 PM

And. you reject, that energy from the sun, is put there regardless of the presence of the plant. Can you be any more the dullard?

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 11:48 PM

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 11:28 PM

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 11:45 PM

Gentlemen, please. IMHO the argument in the thread is a bit like a theological debate. I don’t know who is the more right but what I do know is, it doesn’t change the fact that solar energy is utterly wasteful in terms of overall efficiency and land use requirements, cannot store energy (and even if it could, it will never do so efficiently), and therefore will never be anything more than a niche energy source for so-called “islanded” installations. I know you both realise this.

I just think it isn’t worth your time to be arguing over the fine points of thermodynamics when the obvious issue is the utter waste of taxpayer funds for someone’s green wet dream, that’s all.

/steps down from the soapbox

Wanderlust on February 15, 2014 at 12:21 AM

Just a quick note on the solar panel thing – they do in fact generate heat, it’s quite simple really.

First off, you’ve got to realise that light and heat are two very, very different things – lots of people don’t realise this because, hey, things that produce light also tend to produce warmth, but really that’s just how nature works; getting a pure light source is hard.

So, consider just the light incident on a solar panel – lots of it bounces off, and some gets absorbed, being converted to electricity and heat (this heat comes from the inefficiency of transfer, although no getting away from that, that’s thermodynamics for you).

So your net result is less light, more electricity and more heat.

And if there was no solar panel there? Well lots more would bounce off (solar panels are better at absorbing light than most things), and of course there’d be no heat generated from transduction.

Ramadahl on February 15, 2014 at 1:33 AM

…theft &
…payback

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2014 at 1:35 AM

Ramadahl on February 15, 2014 at 1:33 AM

and the dark roof tiles under those panels do what?

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 2:09 AM

http://www.clca.columbia.edu/13_39th%20IEEE%20PVSC_%20VMF_YY_Heat%20Island%20Effect.pdf

for now read the conclusion. we can argue the differences in methodology later, and the differences between a field of sunlight absorbing solar panels and a field of sunlight reflecting mirrors later.

I am busy now.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 2:52 AM

and the dark roof tiles under those panels do what?

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 2:09 AM

Absorb light, radiate heat – black is the best colour for radiating away unwanted heat energy. Which is necessary to keep the panels as cool as possible to optimise their efficiency. I’m sorry, I’m honestly not getting what point you’re trying to make with this question.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 2:52 AM

Hey, nice study. You realise that it backs up what I said, right? That they generate heat? It does mention that the heating effect is negligible over the total area, which is pretty much what I’d expect given the size of the areas typically involved. Of course, there are plenty of variables that could change the results in different locations, but I’m not sure how much it could realistically do. Then again, I never figured that creating large enough reservoirs could measurably change the rotation of the earth either, so who knows. In any case, I would think it would be decades before we would see a measureable effect.

Ramadahl on February 15, 2014 at 3:25 AM

Hey, nice study. You realise that it backs up what I said, right? That they generate heat? It does mention that the heating effect is negligible over the total area, which is pretty much what I’d expect given the size of the areas typically involved. Of course, there are plenty of variables that could change the results in different locations, but I’m not sure how much it could realistically do. Then again, I never figured that creating large enough reservoirs could measurably change the rotation of the earth either, so who knows. In any case, I would think it would be decades before we would see a measureable effect.

Ramadahl on February 15, 2014 at 3:25 AM

yes but you will have to notice the cooler temps at night. presumably a result of less heat sink than the ground those panels cover. A mirror, which started this argument, will probably get less hot during the day, but still shade the underlying ground, thus EVEN cooler at night.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 3:39 AM

and no significant heat island effect, which again was how this argument got started

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 3:44 AM

So, they’re telling us that it will only cost 16 million dollars per household … what a steal!

kregg on February 15, 2014 at 7:57 AM

It’s actually a landing pad for alien spaceships/s.

Another Drew on February 15, 2014 at 10:49 AM

My scientific background probably far exceeds yours you insect. I tried to be civil, but you can’t understand even rudimentary energy.

kiss off.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 11:45 PM

I doubt it. You’re showing the logic and intelligence of a typical libtard who can’t see or understand the entire equation.
GFY.

dentarthurdent on February 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Couldn’t one just hold a solar calculator to realizes that the heat emitted is minimal?
If we take a solar calculator idea a step further, my guess is that if we multiplied/concentrated photons (beyond the cells rating) it will eventually fry the solar panels.
So, when we go through another solar maximum the 5 acre mirror will fry the collectors … right?

kregg on February 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM

If they really want to force solar on us, it would be much better to put the five square miles of solar panels on existing buildings in Palm Desert, Las Vegas, Phoenix, etc. It would remove energy use from the grid and even put electricity back to the grid for use elsewhere, and not raise the cost of energy for everyone. No transmission issues, environmental issues of dead zones for bird migration, etc.

But, then Obama’s bundlers (bunglers) would not get rich at taxpayer expense.

lvtaxman on February 15, 2014 at 12:53 PM

dentarthurdent on February 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Your even thinking me a lib combined with your inability to understand that equilibrium minus energy cannot equal more energy demonstrates a severe critical thinking problem.

It’s either the lower partial pressure of O2 up there, or the new trace gases.

They sell cannisters at Wal-mart

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 3:03 PM

I worked on this boondoggle for almost a year. The general contractor (Bechtel) lost money. A LOT of money. It had a lot of teething problems during testing. Clogged boiler tubes. In all three towers. birds fly up into the towers as well. Bakes them.

Stratrod on February 15, 2014 at 3:09 PM

There is a great thread (post) on this at http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

Info on Google as one of owners, Harry Reid getting it sited just over in Nevada, post by people who know things and one loon talking the nutter talk at the end of the thread.

About 10 or 11 threads down from the La Nina thread going now.

So question of what happens with a big old honker hail storm.

The sun setting and being gone 12 hours a day and there are some cloudy days and some sand storms.

Think is located about 1 mile off I-15 at Primm Nevada easy to google.

Looks like the google freaks have is covered up with something.

Those who fly near it say they have to be careful that the mirrors do not blind them in flight.

ps
CO2 is a plant food.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Those who fly near it say they have to be careful that the mirrors do not blind them in flight.

ps
CO2 is a plant food.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on February 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I flew over it (well, probably 5 miles to the east) in late January during the daytime, with the sun to the east of my aircraft, and the plant to the west.

Looking directly at the tower that morning was a very bad idea, especially if you wanted to keep scanning sectors for traffic.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on February 15, 2014 at 4:29 PM

When this plant goes bankrupt George Hamilton will pick it up for peanuts.

slickwillie2001 on February 14, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Wow, he’ll really get a leg up on his tan!

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Being without electricity reminds you what it was like before it was available. It can be unsettling but I think we need to get off the grid in some measure.
A long time ago I read in a Popular Science magazine that a rich fella in New Mexico was giving out land parcels for free to anyone that would build there using adobe and car tires for home construction. Not a bad deal- you get rid of the tire problem and you have a house with three foot thick walls (super insulation/heat sink). Geothermal has to be a part of the solution.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 7:52 PM

http://earthship.com

Murphy9 on February 15, 2014 at 7:59 PM

It can be unsettling but I think we need to get off the grid in some measure.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Nothing stopping you sport. Jump on it, all you have to do is find your breaker box and flip that large breaker right at the top. Presto! Off the grid.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Nothing stopping you sport. Jump on it, all you have to do is find your breaker box and flip that large breaker right at the top. Presto! Off the grid.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 7:59 PM

I’m not proposing all or nothing. I wired my entire shop and commercial buildings with three phase to one building. I have a master switch for running my engine powered Miller Trailblazer 302 welder to supply power (and not kill a lineman with back feed) when power goes out.
Let’s just say I don’t have the confidence most have for our fragile electrical grid. I’m looking for viable contingencies.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

Let’s just say I don’t have the confidence most have for our fragile electrical grid. I’m looking for viable contingencies.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 8:13 PM

Having been intimately involved with our electrical grid for many years I can tell you that it is indeed fragile. It’s also pretty diverse and stable. Parts of it can be taken down fairly easily but the segregation protocols will act to limit the extent. I can only think of one scenario that would take down the whole thing all at once. I assure you that the powers that be are also aware of that scenario and there are real time solutions being implemented right now. There are no real viable contingencies. If something happens to our electrical supply for an extended time we’re hosed. Even the survivalists.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 8:22 PM

There are no real viable contingencies. If something happens to our electrical supply for an extended time we’re hosed. Even the survivalists.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 8:22 PM

That’s a scary thought. There will be survivalists, though. Always has been. Yes, I agree many will be hosed. Me, probably included.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 8:45 PM

That’s a scary thought. There will be survivalists, though. Always has been. Yes, I agree many will be hosed. Me, probably included.

Nape-wa-ste on February 15, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Consider. The average home in today’s society has about enough food to last three days. After that people start to go hungry. Five days after a nation wide power outage and society will start to collapse. People in the inner cities will start to move out in search of food and more importantly water. Most won’t make it and will simply die somewhere along the way. Those who survive will become a mob. Think about it. Water gets to our homes and businesses by pumps. Pumps powered by electricity. Without electricity nothing, absolutely in our world works. No water no sewer no food delivery to groceries. That’s because without electricity you can’t pump gas or diesel out of those tanks in the ground into the delivery trucks. Even if you could no new fuel is being processed to refill the tanks. Not only that but we, by and large, are totally unequipped to survive in a world without electricity. Even if you stockpiled gas and fuel gas goes bad after about 2 years unless stabilized and then you might be able to stretch it to 5. After that no power. Solar, your batteries will probably be dead about the time you run out of gas and the solar panels will deteriorate too with no way to replace them. People ramble on about addiction to drugs and alcohol. What about that addiction to the almighty electron? Can’t do without it and when it’s taken away we die. Hell of an addiction.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 9:13 PM

There are no real viable contingencies. If something happens to our electrical supply for an extended time we’re hosed. Even the survivalists.

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Sorry Oldnuke. But no. Several LARGE faraday boxes, I mean large, some NiMH batteries and chargers, 4 kWh solar, as yet undeployed, cheap PWM charge controllers, and 6 months of food also a basic 4500 Watt generator, plus gas and stabil, we’re fine. Golf cart batteries.

If YOU showed up, I’d share. Anyone else……well. Wandeerlust too, I guess.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 10:35 PM

“State and federal regulators are overseeing a two-year study of the facility’s effects on birds.”
Doh! Aren’t they supposed to do that BEFORE they built it and killed all the birds? Bass Ackwards.

AppraisHer on February 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

Sorry Oldnuke. But no. Several LARGE faraday boxes, I mean large, some NiMH batteries and chargers, 4 kWh solar, as yet undeployed, cheap PWM charge controllers, and 6 months of food also a basic 4500 Watt generator, plus gas and stabil, we’re fine. Golf cart batteries.

If YOU showed up, I’d share. Anyone else……well. Wandeerlust too, I guess.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 10:35 PM

No, you’re talking small scale single individual sort of thing. I’m talking general overall population. Hosed. Most survivalists would succumb too. Talk and planning are one thing actual events are another. How long will your generator run with no maintenance to speak of. Can you purify oil? What do you do when your charger shorts out.No operational plan survives the first shot in battle. Sorry that’s just the way it is. You may make it…for say two or three years then when the parts run out you’re right back to the stone age with everybody else. Thanks for the invite but I’ve lived without electricity before. I didn’t like it then and I’m too old to be bugging out now. I’ll just sit here and take as many zombies out as I can before they get me. By the way just so you know. EMP becomes less of a threat to the grid every day. You’ll just have to trust me on that but the utilities are really doing things to mitigate it. Minor segue, sort of, do you have the Foxfire books? Also basic knowledge of food preservation, smoking, salt curing, canning and can you make soap?

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Oldnuke on February 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Soap. easy. stone, lye and all. Salt. Very much. they sell it in 40 lb bags don’t yah know. nonhyrbid seeds aplenty. Permaculture fer sure. Lots acreage.

Zombies. No problem

Only real problem is networking.

you’d still be welcome.

I’ll check in on the foxfire books.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM

Soap. easy. stone, lye and all. Salt. Very much. they sell it in 40 lb bags don’t yah know. nonhyrbid seeds aplenty. Permaculture fer sure. Lots acreage.

you’d still be welcome.

I’ll check in on the foxfire books.

WryTrvllr on February 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM

I’m sorry, you misunderstand. I didn’t mean do you have access to materials. I was asking if you have actual experience. Have you ever done any of this stuff? If not then I’d suggest that you do some of it just to get a feel for what you’re in for. Reading it in a book is one thing but doing it is something else again. Buy a hog, raise it, slaughter it and then cure and smoke the meat. You’d be surprised at how much work it is to process one pig. Run off a batch of lye using hard wood ash, take some of the lard from the hog, not stone and make a batch of soap. These are really some good skills to have any time. Knowing how to preserve food is something that I think should be taught in school. When I was growing up and even today back where I’m from everybody had/has a garden. Almost everyone, even a lot of the town folk put up food. Canning, drying and preserving. Just a way of life. My paternal Grandfather was locally famous for his hams and smoked meats. He smoked with applewood instead of hickory and had a special mix of salt and some other stuff that he used for curing. I think I could still do it. My maternal Grandfather taught me to hunt and fish. Never took to hunting but fishing I could now teach my Grandfather a few tricks.The Foxfire books are well worth the money. Thanks again for the invite but I actually own land back in Ky that I could retreat to. Remote lots of game, timber water and kinfolk. Probably just wouldn’t bother.

Oldnuke on February 16, 2014 at 12:44 AM

I’ve done all of that and more.

WryTrvllr on February 16, 2014 at 1:42 AM

But you are right, many old skills have been lost. I’ve been lucky.

WryTrvllr on February 16, 2014 at 1:44 AM

I can hardly wait for the first sandstorm, meteor shower, or tornado to blow this foolish venture away.

Bet it won’t take even 10 years.

landlines on February 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

The “Hoover Dam Obama project of our time”?

(Corrected obvious error in tag line)

landlines on February 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM

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