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

Just today obama told the farmers in Fresno that the Rs caused global warming and their demise.

Schadenfreude on February 14, 2014 at 1:26 PM

The sun is a dangerous flaming ball of magma. You would have to be insane to think that this is a “safe” source of energy.

Pablo Honey on February 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Stories what will follow:

- Dead birds
- Not as efficient as hoped

I guarantee it.

jake-the-goose on February 14, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Nobody tell Rachel Maddow

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM

the BrightSource system appears to be scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers,

A step in resolving the hunger problem that the liberals seem to think we are plagued with.

A two-fer, electricity and feeding the poor…kind of a take out dinners, maybe perfect for illegal immigrants.

right2bright on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM

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.


Quelle surprise!

It’s not like ANYONE could have worked this out on the back of an envelope …

/sarc

… Nooooooooooooo, we had to BUILD IT to find out what IT WOULD COST!

/toxic levels of sarc

PolAgnostic on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM

You build a tower of mirrors and you DON’T expect birds to fly into it?

Do these people live in same world as I do or am I just smarter than everyone else?

Defenestratus on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 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

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.

Unless you believe in unicorns farting out clean, green energy, or some other figment of the progressive imagination.

xNavigator on February 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I wonder how well it can cook a Thanksgiving turkey?
/

Electrongod on February 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM

So lead in condors bad. Condor en flambe good.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Even breaking out the $2.2 Billion cost over 20 years, the cost of those 140 MW is 9 cents per KWH. Without spending one single penny more.

A conventional plant that size wouldn’t be built for more than $150 Million.

deadrody on February 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Was the Constitution really just setup so businesses could prosper?

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/chamber-ceo-us-needs-more-low-skill-immigration-americans-are-not-qualified-or-willing-do-such-work_781624.html

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue says in an op-ed that the U.S. needs more low-skill immigration because Americans are not “qualified” or “willing” to do such work.“Immigration can also address labor shortages in lesser-skilled fields where there are insufficient numbers of either qualified or willing U.S. workers to fill positions,” Donohue writes.

PappyD61 on February 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Hey, it’s worth it. They needed it as a model for Fallout: New Vegas.

Tyrone Slothrop on February 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Easy way for a terrorist to whack that part of the local energy grid, they could eff it up with cheap slingshots.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Do these people live in same world as I do or am I just smarter than everyone else?

Defenestratus on February 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM

What is it with you and widows :-)

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

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

Pegcity on February 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

1000 degrees? Now we know where all the global warming is coming from. lol

bsinc1962 on February 14, 2014 at 1:37 PM

It’s a costly and bass-ackwards way to go about things, and a disservice to alternative energy in the long run.

That’s in the real world. In the realm of progressivism, the real world is never considered. If it works in theory, it will work in the real world. Therefore, this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

Athos on February 14, 2014 at 1:41 PM

The greatest minds and all of this free money and the best they can come up with is a mediocre grade-school science fair project. SMH

BKeyser on February 14, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Hmmm, 2.2 billion. I wonder how many homes could have benefited from this if done house by house?

fistbump on February 14, 2014 at 1:42 PM

What is it with you and widows :-)

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Don’t let me near those power towers :P

Defenestratus on February 14, 2014 at 1:44 PM

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

with A LOT of innovation. 1kWh = 3412 BTU 1 gallon propane 91,500 BTU.

Cost of 1 kilowatt generating capacity
Panels around 1000.00
Mount 400.00
Wiring 500.00 (unless you only hook it directly to light bulbs for heat, then 15.00)
Batteries, Inverter, or worse grid tied inverter couple thousand bucks.

The more I learn, the worse it gets.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM

The sun is a dangerous flaming ball of magma. You would have to be insane to think that this is a “safe” source of energy.

Pablo Honey on February 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

The Sun is a flaming ball of molten rock? You should inform the science journals that they’ve gotten it all wrong.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

I saw his lying face on CNN this morning.

I’m too the point where I not only won’t listen to his voice, I’m now going to do everything I can just to avoid seeing his face at all.

There are a LOT of liars (in both parties) in the D.C. Ruling class but this Administration is one for the record books. And I thought Bush was bad.

UGH.

PappyD61 on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

I’d be curious if it releases steam.

That’s a greenhouse gas you know.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Wow – I learned something today – thanks for those figures. WOW !!

jake-the-goose on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

“…only that it (costs) will be passed on to electricity customers.”

The iceberg that will sink this scam.

timberline on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

All those dead birds are going to really ruin their carbon footprint numbers!!!

Snitchmo on February 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Cost of 1 kilowatt generating capacity
Panels around 1000.00
Mount 400.00
Wiring 500.00 (unless you only hook it directly to light bulbs for heat, then 15.00)
Batteries, Inverter, or worse grid tied inverter couple thousand bucks.

The more I learn, the worse it gets.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM

That’s no joke. Even here in Floriduh where there’s the most sun, and I added up the cost, it would take almost 20 years to amortize the cost. And that’s assuming nothing breaks and energy costs stay the same. Batteries don’t last forever, either.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM

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

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.

Dogeater says they taste like chicken.

M240H on February 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM

I wonder what constant 1000*F operating temps does for “global warming”?

Jazz on February 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM

The sun is a dangerous flaming ball of magma. You would have to be insane to think that this is a “safe” source of energy.

Pablo Honey on February 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

And why do they keep calling it renewable? It’s either going to blow up or burn out eventually and there’ll be no replacing it. We’ll have go find another star to live near.

Occams Stubble on February 14, 2014 at 1:49 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

Obama DONE

Edited for accuracy :)

22044 on February 14, 2014 at 1:50 PM

The sun President is a dangerous flaming ball of magma sh**. You would have to be insane to think that this he is a “safe” source of energy ideas.

Pablo Honey on February 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

fify

M240H on February 14, 2014 at 1:52 PM

I wonder what constant 1000*F operating temps does for “global warming”?

Jazz on February 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Enhanced radiant heat is the GOOD kind of heat.

Sheesh, deniers.

antipc on February 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM

That’s no joke. Even here in Floriduh where there’s the most sun, and I added up the cost, it would take almost 20 years to amortize the cost. And that’s assuming nothing breaks and energy costs stay the same. Batteries don’t last forever, either.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM

That’s the cost of the cheap chinese panels too. they have a 20-25% fail rate. By far the cheapest way to use it is to pump heat (either via 100 watt “heat balls” or in summer pair of 600 watt (yeah only 600) heating elements for a pre-waterheater waterheater.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:54 PM

$2,200,000,000 divided by $10,000 (average cost of 5KW solar panel setup/house) equals 220,000 houses setup.

Math ain’t a government strong point. Of course the right people got the money so it is all good.

jukin3 on February 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

and the birds that don’t kill themselves on them, like to drop on them. Watch your voltage drop.

Even the slightest hint of a cloud in the sky and oops, no power.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

One good hailstorm would put an end to that.

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 1:57 PM

It’s going to be a Silent Spring in Cali.

Lost in Jersey on February 14, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Even breaking out the $2.2 Billion cost over 20 years, the cost of those 140 MW is 9 cents per KWH. Without spending one single penny more.

A conventional plant that size wouldn’t be built for more than $150 Million.

deadrody on February 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Meanwhile, the Watts Bar Nuke plant cost $2.5B and bangs out nearly 1,200 MW 24X7.

Occams Stubble on February 14, 2014 at 1:59 PM

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

That’s a good question, and it’s actually one that *has* been answered. I don’t know what the heat transfer medium is for this particular plant, but for this [em]type[/em] of plant, it’s typically molten salt. The light heats up the salt, which in turn turns water into steam, which goes into steam turbines and generates electricity. At night, there’s enough latent heat in the salt to keep generating quite a bit. It’s not a long-term, high-capacity energy storage system, but it works.

Mohonri on February 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Being out in a remote desert may mean low property costs, but it will also mean increased costs for transporting the electricity back to population centers that use it. Paid for by — you guessed it — electrical consumers and taxpayers.

Socratease on February 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

$2,200,000,000 divided by $10,000 (average cost of 5KW solar panel setup/house) equals 220,000 houses setup.

Math ain’t a government strong point. Of course the right people got the money so it is all good.

jukin3 on February 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

I’ve often thought that a good used of government money would be to ever year list the 10,000 poorest households that took the mortgage interest deduction and give them a solar panel system. It would be cheap as government programs go and would actually do something to help poor people.

Occams Stubble on February 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Here it is on Google Maps:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ivanpah+Solar+Electric+Generating+System/@35.557048,-115.468626,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x80cf4334ceebc76d:0x81620c57d7b15ade

Okay, it’s in the desert, right? Where they have sand, and dust, right? How are they going to keep all those mirrors clean? I mean, dust is going to settle on them, they’re going to get dirty, and that’s going to lower their efficiency.

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

The obvious answer to making this venture profitable is partnering with Tyson to develop a “unique” chicken processing plant. Gotta harness all that awesome bird frying power!

TomJefferson on February 14, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Canary in a coal mine?

jalegend on February 14, 2014 at 2:07 PM

The light heats up the salt, which in turn turns water into steam, which goes into steam turbines and generates electricity. At night, there’s enough latent heat in the salt to keep generating quite a bit.

That just shifts the energy production time around. The salt will take a while to melt and come up to operating temperature in the morning, delaying energy production past the morning electrical power peak. Conventionally-fueled generators will be needed to take up that load.

Socratease on February 14, 2014 at 2:07 PM

and since its getting on Februaary 20, we all need to go out and rearrange our arrays

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:08 PM

That’s the cost of the cheap chinese panels too. they have a 20-25% fail rate. By far the cheapest way to use it is to pump heat (either via 100 watt “heat balls” or in summer pair of 600 watt (yeah only 600) heating elements for a pre-waterheater waterheater.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:54 PM

I was gonna say, $1,000 for enough panels for 1Kw is kinda cheap.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Okay, it’s in the desert, right? Where they have sand, and dust, right? How are they going to keep all those mirrors clean?

Silly Conservative, that’s what the cheap labor from the army of illegal aliens armed with dusters is for. Can’t you figure anything out for yourself?

Socratease on February 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Hey, it’s worth it. They needed it as a model for Fallout: New Vegas.

Tyrone Slothrop on February 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Now they need to make that kickass weapon that goes along with it ……….

Garym on February 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Okay, it’s in the desert, right? Where they have sand, and dust, right? How are they going to keep all those mirrors clean?

Silly Conservative, that’s what the cheap labor from the army of illegal aliens armed with dusters is for. Can’t you figure anything out for yourself?

Socratease on February 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I was already asking that question and I deleted it. Surely the cleaning cost was already figured in.

Right?

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Silly Conservative, that’s what the cheap labor from the army of illegal aliens armed with dusters is for. Can’t you figure anything out for yourself?

Socratease on February 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Time to buy stock in Proctor & Gamble (they make Swiffer).

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Enhanced radiant heat is the GOOD kind of heat.

Sheesh, deniers.

antipc on February 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM

What did you learn in your science classes??? Lemme guess, social justice?

/f*ckin’ idiot

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

The obvious answer to making this venture profitable is partnering with Tyson to develop a “unique” chicken processing plant. Gotta harness all that awesome bird frying power!

TomJefferson on February 14, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Genius! Especially considering that the Tysons are Dem (Clinton) supporters.

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

What did you learn in your science classes??? Lemme guess, social justice?

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Whenever I hear the words “Social Justice”, I reach for my Glock.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Mohonri on February 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

I’ve often wondered about that. How to you exchange heat with molten salt. I mean the stuff has to be highly corrosive right?

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Progressive War on Birds…

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

Excisely. Obviously, those were Global Warming Denier Birds.

The dead birds included a… grebe.

(And any bird with that name deserves to get BBQ’d (or deep-fried), a GWDB or otherwise.)

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Okay, it’s in the desert, right? Where they have sand, and dust, right? How are they going to keep all those mirrors clean? I mean, dust is going to settle on them, they’re going to get dirty, and that’s going to lower their efficiency.

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Jeebus, you people are stupid.

Right next door they built a sprawling power plant to provide electricity that is used for giant blower fans around the solar perimeter to clear the sand and dust.

The solar panels heat the boiler, the boiler provides just enough steam to power the turbines which energize the fans, and the sand disappears; a perfect closed loop system.

Read a book sometime.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 2:19 PM

How did this monstrosity get built without a full environmental impact study? At nearby Fort Irwin, an upgrade to the post’s training communications is being delayed for just that reason. And it’s not some shimmering, 5-square-mile bird zapper. It’s a couple of dozen cell phone towers, just like you find all over the country. And how did they NOT know this would happen? The whole POINT of focusing the sunlight was to achieve that 1000-degree heat, right? And they DID know that birds fly through the air, right? I guess the global warming tree huggers won out over the endangered species tree huggers. Must have been an ugly pillow fight.

MajorDad on February 14, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Little known fact: This project was designed by W.E. Coyote and marketed by the Acme Corporation. In a press release, Mr. Coyote conceded that the intent of the project was always to fry the birds, and that the solar power generated was an afterthought.

BKeyser on February 14, 2014 at 2:20 PM

MajorDad on February 14, 2014 at 2:20 PM

obamawaivers.

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Lanceman on February 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

It was a guess, admittedly. I just figure that since he can’t reason that in an escalating heat-trapping atmosphere scenario, that there would be a difference between heat trapping and heat generating. The consequences would be the same – more heat – that is, *if* one believes in such a scenario.

But we all know how well those climate scenarios have worked out, especially the ones put up by the Mann-child and the railroad engineer-headed IPCC. Because science, they keep reminding us, despite their abject ignorance of the subject.

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:23 PM

34.775198,-118.431374
they have another one of these going in at this GPS location
just west of Lancaster CA…
not only can the birds fly by
but nothing can live under these panels..
the ground is stripped…
the cleaning fluid they us…not friendly…
and for miles in all directions….nothing..

going2mars on February 14, 2014 at 2:23 PM

fluid they us…they USE …sorry

going2mars on February 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

The sun is a dangerous flaming ball of magma. You would have to be insane to think that this is a “safe” source of energy.

Pablo Honey on February 14, 2014 at 1:27 PM

The Sun is a flaming ball of molten rock? You should inform the science journals that they’ve gotten it all wrong.

Bishop on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

HA!

But seriously….

Gays cause Global Warming.

There I said it and if you correlate the years of Gay activism with the increase of global temperatures…I mean it’s pretty conclusive…

*snicker*

workingclass artist on February 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Progressive War on Birds…

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

Excisely. Obviously, those were Global Warming Denier Birds.

The dead birds included a… grebe.

(And any bird with that name deserves to get BBQ’d (or deep-fried), a GWDB or otherwise.)

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Somebody better alert Bishop…Birds are being marginalized and fried…

workingclass artist on February 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I’d be curious if it releases steam.

That’s a greenhouse gas you know.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Not sure, but I think the ‘first stage’ thermal-transfer fluid is molten sodium.

That’s real fun stuff. I hear you can open a spigot, pour a glass and it goes down just like a smoothie.

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

A white-throated needletail called from the beyond to endorse wind towers…enjoy ;)

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:29 PM

What did you learn in your science classes??? Lemme guess, social justice?

/f*ckin’ idiot

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Seriously? I thought that was sarc.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Seriously? I thought that was sarc.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:32 PM

My apologies if it was meant to be satire. I have spoken with people before who would believe such a thing, so I assumed it wasn’t satirical.

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Wanderlust on February 14, 2014 at 2:35 PM

I have to go with the assumption he realizes those mirrors are pointed at an earth-bound object

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:38 PM

and that the urban heat island effect is also a bad thing

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:40 PM

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.

Light up, not provide energy for, right? Isn’t that a really small amount of energy?

talkingpoints on February 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Little known fact: This project was designed by W.E. Coyote and marketed by the Acme Corporation. In a press release, Mr. Coyote conceded that the intent of the project was always to fry the birds, and that the solar power generated was an afterthought.

BKeyser on February 14, 2014 at 2:20 PM

If only we could get the dodo birds in Washington to fly through it and not a roadrunner ………

Garym on February 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Light up, not provide energy for, right? Isn’t that a really small amount of energy?

talkingpoints on February 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

GOOD CATCH!

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Uhm, is a coal fired plant ‘thermal’?

Ok, so largest solar powered ‘thermal’ (a.k.a steam generator) opens, and loses money for every hour of it’s operation.

Joseph OHenry on February 14, 2014 at 2:52 PM

I can’t stop laughing.
Drudge reports 25 don’t know the Earth revolves around the Sun.
That Common Core will save education.
BTW, roasted Perigrine Falcon is a Federal crime.
The country is being run by dumb@$$e$.
Just can’t stop laughing.
A couple of well placed, long rane .308′s will put this thing OOB.
Laughter…the best medicine…as opposed to Barrycare.
III

Sgt Stryker on February 14, 2014 at 2:54 PM

I checked some other sources and apparently it has a capacity of 392 megawatts with an average home annual use being about 11,000 kWh. According to the sources I checked it should power 140,000 houses

talkingpoints on February 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Math ain’t a government strong point. Of course the right people got the money so it is all good.

jukin3 on February 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Isn’t this the project that involves Pelosi family members?

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:02 PM

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.

Light up, not provide energy for, right? Isn’t that a really small amount of energy?
talkingpoints on February 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

It’s worse than that.
When do solar panels produce energy? During daylight hours.
When do people need to light their homes? During evening hours.
It is almost like their article is satire.
These people are disturbingly inept and unaware.

airupthere on February 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Earth revolves around the Sun.

Sgt Stryker on February 14, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Does not. We’d get slung-off at night by centrifugial forces if it did. Dark places would be, like, alien subduction zones.

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Not sure, but I think the ‘first stage’ thermal-transfer fluid is molten sodium.

That’s real fun stuff. I hear you can open a spigot, pour a glass and it goes down just like a smoothie.

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

For serious fun, dump some on the ground and throw a bucket of water on it.

On second thought, use a long garden hose with a good “reach”. And be prepared to run like Hell;

Water and Sodium

Now imagine what happens if that sh!t gets loose in the local “environment”.

One case where Californians would be praying it didn’t rain.

cheers

eon

eon on February 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM

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.

Why would it supply enough energy to light up 140,000 homes for a year? Wouldn’t it supply that energy indefinitely?

And would it cover just the energy consumed by lighting, or the total energy consumption of these 140,000 homes?

When Billions of Dollars are on the line, is it too much to ask that people be precise in their language?

Haiku Guy on February 14, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Why do environmentalists hate birds so much?

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:15 PM

We live in the age of the Great Avian Apocalypse.

Millions were chopped by the wind turbines and millions were fried by solar panels.

Where are the friends of birds?

No Chop Charlie on February 14, 2014 at 3:18 PM

When Billions of Dollars are on the line, is it too much to ask that people be precise in their language?

Haiku Guy on February 14, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Details, details, details… sigh.

Isn’t it good enuf’ to just know that it feels good. What else do you expect, lowly taxpayer? Get back to work, you owe us.

/

Tsar of Earth on February 14, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Okay, it’s in the desert, right? Where they have sand, and dust, right? How are they going to keep all those mirrors clean? I mean, dust is going to settle on them, they’re going to get dirty, and that’s going to lower their efficiency.

Ward Cleaver on February 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Not just the dust – what about the sand itself?
What do you think is going to happen to all that glass when the wind kicks up?
First Santa Ana wind storm….
How transmissive / efficient is sandblasted glass?
(Hint – look at your “frosted” shower door)

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:23 PM

checked some other sources and apparently it has a capacity of 392 megawatts with an average home annual use being about 11,000 kWh. According to the sources I checked it should power 140,000 houses

talkingpoints on February 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM

No way. In winter we use 3000 kwh per month (6 people). No AC. Natural gas heating.

392 megawatts x 5.5 hrs sun/day = 2156 x 10(6) mWh

divide by 36000 kwh you get 59,000 homes of winter light use only.

Unless your talking townhomes of 200 sq feet.

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

ahh, my bad. It makes that every day

WryTrvllr on February 14, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Why do environmentalists hate birds so much?

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Here in New Hampshire a couple of years ago a Spanish firm managed to ram thru a wind farm just below the White Mountain National Forest. One of NH’s leading environmentalist groups, the Appalachian Mountain Club, had no objections to the 400 foot tall towers, even though many of them were directly across the valley from one of the only Peregrine Falcon nesting sites in the state. The AMC also claimed that the towers wouldn’t provide any adverse “visual impact” to surrounding towns.

But when completed, said towers were directly visible from a part of the AMC’s precious Appalachian Trail (which is designated as a National Scenic Trail). And some of those towers ended up being visible as far away as the eastern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, 30 miles to the east.

Now in 2014, the AMC is suddenly opposed to another wind farm proposed by the same Spanish company. The reason?

That wind farm will be in the AMC’s own back yard. They own a large reservation that includes a year-round lodge right near where the proposed towers will go up.

In other words, the AMC has no problem with such 400 foot tall towers having negative visual impact elsewhere-it’s just that they themselves don’t want to have to be bothered with looking at them.

HYPORCRISY+

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

Heard people sit around the edge of it waiting for their “sunfried” bird to crash on the ground ready to eat.

Son: “Look, mom, a flock of geese is flying over the solar thermal plant”

Mom: “Dinner is Ready!!!”

Dad, looking through binoculars;“Those aren’t geese, those are American bald eagles!”

Mom: “Son, Put the American flag tablecloth on the table! This is a patriotic meal we’ll be having!”

albill on February 14, 2014 at 3:33 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

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

We live in the age of the Great Avian Apocalypse.
Millions were chopped by the wind turbines and millions were fried by solar panels.
Where are the friends of birds?

No Chop Charlie on February 14, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Ya know – if we could just get these 2 mahvalous technologies co-located and synched up, we could feed the world with chopped grilled bird….
I wonder if Tyson has looked into this yet….

dentarthurdent on February 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Who needs windmills to smack birds out of the sky when you can bug-zap them with this?

viking01 on February 14, 2014 at 3:39 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

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