World's largest solar farm is up and running in California

Topaz Solar Farm in California is up and running

The world's largest solar plant is up and running in California, with the completion of Topaz, a 550 megawatt plant; the Topaz solar project completed its final 40-megawatt (AC) phase, reported Greentech Media, making history not only as the first 500-megawatt plus solar farm to come on-line in the U.S. but also as the largest solar plant on-line in the world. Reports are talking about a plant with 9 million solar panels installed across 9.5 square miles.

This is a $2.5 billion , said io9, with construction that began two years ago. The owner is MidAmerican Solar, a Pheonix, Arizona-based subsidiary of MidAmerican Renewables. Topaz is described by MidAmerican Solar as a 550-megawatt photovoltaic power plant. The developer for the project is listed as First Solar, discussing on its website the project that will produce sufficient electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Topaz is located in San Luis Obispo County, California, on the northwestern corner of the Carrisa Plains.

First Solar said that site was chosen after considerations regarding available solar resource, proximity to existing electrical transmission lines, current land use, and environmental sensitivities. They said that Topaz is sited on largely "non-prime," actively tilled agricultural land that has "limited productivity." At the northwestern edge of the Carrisa Plains, added First Solar, Topaz is more than six miles from the more sensitive habitats in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. According to fact sheet notes from MidAmerican Solar, the Topaz project is being built on previously disturbed agricultural land with a minimally impervious surface that allows for natural drainage and low-impact development and has the best solar insolation in Pacific Gas and Electric's service territory. The Topaz project is designed to function as productive grassland habitat for native plants and animals while being used for passive farming of the sun's energy. Water used during construction is primarily for dust control. During operation, the panels do not require washing and vegetation is maintained to help with dust control.

"As of today," wrote Eric Wesoff on November 24 in Greentech Media, "the project has installed 9 million across 9.5 square miles in San Luis Obispo County on California's Carrizo Plain. Construction began in 2012 and was expected to be complete in early 2015—so call this an on-time delivery." Engadget said that "It's an impressive feat that should power 160,000 homes on Pacific Gas and Electric's grid."

The Greentech Media report said that Pacific Gas and Electric will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a power-purchase agreement. MidAmerican Solar said that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company will purchase the electricity from the project under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

What is more, the project is expected to displace 377,000 tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking 73,000 cars off the road, according to First Solar.


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Nov 29, 2014
The developer for the project is listed as First Solar, discussing on its website the project that will produce sufficient electricity to power 160,000 average California homes. Topaz is located in San Luis Obispo County, California, on the northwestern corner of the Carrisa Plains.


No it won't.

The average Californian home uses 18,000 kWh a year.

The Topaz plant is projected to operate at 0.22 capacity factor, therefore it will provide the yearly output of 59,000 average Californian homes.

Other PV systems in California have shown to operate at a capacity factor of 0.148. Adjusting for the same, the real output may be as low as 39,000 average homes.

In any case, nowhere near the 160,000 promised. That's a completely made up number that doesn't correspond with anything.

The question is, why are we constantly being lied to when talking of green energy? Why does this sort of false reporting happen all the friggin time?

Nov 29, 2014

The question is, why are we constantly being lied to when talking of green energy? Why does this sort of false reporting happen all the friggin time?


Because if they actually told the truth, they would have to worry about being discredited.

Nov 29, 2014
I'm all for green energy, but let's be realistic. 9.5 square miles of land to power, at best, 160k homes only when the sun is shining??? How about putting the same amount of money into developing affordable, home sized fuel cells and cheap, green friendly hydrogen production.

Nov 29, 2014
and cheap, green friendly hydrogen production.


Well... where would you get the energy to generate the hydrogen? How would you pump the hydrogen to each home safely?

It's not going to take any smaller tract of land to do that in a renewable way, at least with the renewables we got.

Nov 29, 2014
Besides. 9.5 square miles is the size of a neighborhood just 3x3 miles. If you divide that into 60,000 lots, each would get an area 22 by 22 yards. It's not much in the end.

It's about equal to the area required to house the houses of a 60,000 home community.

Nov 29, 2014
Comparatively these green energy projects make nuclear power generation look like an absolute bargain.

Nov 29, 2014
The average Californian home uses 18,000 kWh a year.
The Topaz plant is projected to operate at 0.22 capacity factor, therefore it will provide the yearly output of 59,000 average Californian homes.

That's not quite how that works. A couple facts:

1) The vast majority of energy is used when the sun is shining, and
2) Solar doesn't provide baseload power, it provides supplementary power.

Instead of the way you're thinking, it works more like this: you have something like a nuclear plant providing 24/7 baseload power. It can take care of everything during the night, but it can't handle peak load. During peak times however, is when solar is outputting the most energy. So your choices are to build two nukes (or gas, or whatever) to handle peak power, or to build one nuke, and a supplementary plant (solar and dam hydro work the best for that).

Seen as part of a whole grid rather than as single pieces, plants like this one are much more useful. But on their own? Useless.

Nov 29, 2014
If the .22 average output figure is correct it will take 54 years to pay off the plant at 5 cents a KWH. That does not include labor, plant maintenance or interest on the money. So in reality this solar power will be at least 2-3 x more expensive than existing fossil. I would guess that the true number will be closer to the 4-5x range.

Nov 29, 2014
@MR166 If the .22 average output figure is correct it will take 54 years to pay off the plant at 5 cents a KWH. That does not include labor, plant maintenance or interest on the money. So in reality this solar power will be at least 2-3 x more expensive than existing fossil. I would guess that the true number will be closer to the 4-5x range.
5 cents/Kwh is cheap. And fossil fuel never pays for itself. How much did the Iraq war cost you? How much does having to always watch your back overseas because you've made enemies everywhere cost you? How much does suspension of your own constitution for the Patriot Act and NSA spying and police state cost you? All that to secure dino energy for yourself. Is it all cheaper than some solar panels mounted on land you will never see in your life? The average commercial electricity rate in South California is 11.81¢/kWh so 5 cents is a bargain! All that energy is in real time exactly when air conditioning load peaks!

Nov 29, 2014
"Water used during construction is primarily for dust control. During operation, the panels do not require washing and vegetation is maintained to help with dust control."

I will believe that when I see it. It is a farming area, dust and pollen are very common. Solar panels lose efficiency very quickly when dirty.

Nov 29, 2014

That's not quite how that works.


No. It's exactly how it works. The facility produces a certain amount of energy, and the average household uses a certain amount of energy.

Of course you can argue it isn't so by changing the definition of what it means to power a home into "Providing a little bit of power for some time of the day at least some part of the year".

But that's really muddying it up, because the peak household demand doesn't coincide with the peak solar output all the way through the year, so it's difficult to make such assesments. Even if you take the average power demand and compare it to the expected peak output of the facility, the numbers simply don't add up.

I.e. the 160,000 homes figure is completely derived by Stetson-Harrison. It has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Nov 29, 2014
Where did you get your number Eikka?


The US Energy Information Association. The average Californian home uses 62 million Btu a year, which translates to 18,170 kWh. 44% of that is by electric appliances and lighting, which corresponds to roughly 8,000 kWh a year. The rest is various heating and cooling.

Last year we used 6,630 Kwh. We get about 5 hours insolation (averaged) - so that would need less than 4 kw of panels to power my home.


What do you use for heating, cooking and hot water?

Nov 29, 2014
" The average commercial electricity rate in South California is 11.81¢/kWh so 5 cents is a bargain! All that energy is in real time exactly when air conditioning load peaks"

5 cents is closer to the average wholesale rate paid by the distributors. Triple that and all the energy sensitive industries move to other states or countries.

Nov 29, 2014
offsetting the higher cost peeker plants.


Yes and no.

The peak following plants don't respond to peak demand as such, but to high variations in the rate of change in the system. If you insert lots of solar power in the middle of the peak load, you reduce the amount of energy needed from these systems, but you're still left with high supply variations in the system before and after the solar peak.

So you can't get rid of the peaking powerplants. They simply become even more expensive per unit of energy produced, since they are still there and simply used for a shorter amounts of time.


Nov 29, 2014
Well, is a new industry so expect this misrepresentation. But, it is sadly following other pie-in-the-sky like safe nuclear, clean coal, and the real biggie desal plants. The Ivanpah says low sun is the fault of it failure to produce energy, desals are notorious for constant breakdowns that keep even a year's operation out of reach. They now are sited inland in brackish reservoirs of contaminated fresh. Fusion remans unattainable due to instabilities at the quantum level. The hope is for magnetic compresson to produce the so-called Higgs which obviously doesnt exist. That leaves us with hydrogen. We are going hydrogen by default. Dangers and all.

Nov 29, 2014
Retail costs for electricity in California are around 15 cents kwh

Don't confuse retail prices with wholesale. Wholesale is closer to 5 or 6 cents.

One of biggest problems with the green energy movement is it's unwillingness to disclose the true costs of it's products. 5x more expensive is a huge price increase. The fact that it is paid for by taxpayer dollars does not make it any less expensive.

Nov 29, 2014
"Solar prices are very cost competitive with electricity from nuclear, and also peeker plants. Latest numbers are showing that with subsidies - solar is coming in around 5 cents - that puts it at perhaps 8 cents if subsidies are factored out. Very cost competitive."

You could be a poster child for the poor accounting and Pollyanna attitude that is prevalent in the green power industry.

How can you think that wholesale power at 5x the going rate is "Very Cost Competitive"?

Nov 29, 2014
My gosh, the deniers are rabid. I guess they wanted a disgusting coal-burner in that pristine area.

KBK
Nov 29, 2014
Simply put and bypassing the entire argument chain in this comment area, is the fact that the X-prize foundation is now offering a $20 million 'forbidden energy' prize. Look it up yourself. (and the reams of data on alternative 'over unity' technologies) (up into the thousands of proofs now)

It is very simple.

They (the X-prize foundation) have recognized the truth of blocked technology. That it is not impossible technologies in the alternative parts of the internet... it is forbidden (murdered researchers, destroyed laboratories and lives, etc) technologies.

The X-prize foundation recognizes this point, publicly, and engages the situation directly.

When the truth comes out, where are these people and groups (black ops/gov/etc)
who have done such horrible things --- where will they hide?

Things are changing. Where is *your* head?

Nov 29, 2014
KBK, does that mean we do not have to put up with the rabid pro-nukers and the Cold Fusion Warriors complaining and crabbing, because now they will have their chance to "prove" their assertions?


KBK
Nov 29, 2014
"Science advances, funeral by funeral" --Max Planck.

How soon we can arrange the funerals of loud mouthed and insistent nay-sayers is the heart of the answer to that. It would be better if they could fix their own psychology but there is little chance of that.

Nov 29, 2014
"How soon we can arrange the funerals of loud mouthed and insistent nay-sayers is the heart of the answer to that. It would be better if they could fix their own psychology but there is little chance of that."

Huumm, and that statement was from one of the "Enlightened"!

Nov 29, 2014
@Eikka
"What do you use for heating, cooking and hot water?"

As green onions pointed out, in California we use natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water.

Nov 29, 2014
The very way that they rate these plants shows how much the industry is trying to deceive the public in order to gain support. I would venture to say that the 550MW is peak power for 1 hour per ideal, IE cloudless, day when the plant is brand new and operating at peak efficiency.

Nov 29, 2014
166, them grapes must be REALLY sour!

Nov 29, 2014
"166, them grapes must be REALLY sour!"

Gkam how do you think that they arrived at the output figure? Is it 550MW per hour for an entire 24 hour day or is it peak instantaneous power?

Nov 29, 2014
It is peak power, like ALL generation facilities. Do you think all powerplants run at full output all the time?

Please read the article and see the factors considered before they put it there. We are well aware of the annual insolation, and all other factors involved in this plant.

Nov 29, 2014
Rating a solar plant the same way that you rate a plant that can run at 90% output 24/7 is inherently misleading to the general public as highlighted by this quote form the article.

""It's an impressive feat that should power 160,000 homes on Pacific Gas and Electric's grid."


Nov 29, 2014
Yeah, and at PEAK, too! With no fuel or pollution.

Do you NOT understand this technology is so much better than combustion that it is worth needing excess capacity? Do you think you know more about running PV facilities than those who actually DO it?

Look up all the points you want, it is not going to stop the evolution of our power systems.

Nov 29, 2014
This obvious twisting of the truth on a regular basis is one of the reasons I do not trust the green power movement and the AGW data that they fund.

Nov 29, 2014
Do you know the power companies run generators as motors, taking power, to keep them in sync, so the exciters can bring them online in tens of seconds? What is the load factor of a generator that uses power?

Your analysis is too simplistic.

Nov 29, 2014
Gkam I know that you are intelligent so you must be biased and part of the misinformation being put out by crony capitalists.

Solar power, due to it's indeterminacy will further increase the need for these back up generators. "Do you know the power companies run generators as motors, taking power, to keep them in sync, so the exciters can bring them online in tens of seconds?"

Nov 29, 2014
Yeah, and at PEAK, too! With no fuel or pollution.

Do you NOT understand this technology is so much better than combustion that it is worth needing excess capacity? Do you think you know more about running PV facilities than those who actually DO it?

Look up all the points you want, it is not going to stop the evolution of our power systems.
People who run them generally have no idea how they are designed, although they might get the mistaken impression that they do. This is the difference between engineers and technicians like yourself.

Nov 29, 2014
Solar power is predictable, and all those factors are included in the analyses of installations.

MR 166, in college, I went through all kinds of powerplants, having to do analyses of every part and explain their integration. My thermodynamics of power systems for my Master of Science covered the rest. I really was Senior Engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric in the 1980's, and consulted to power companies in technical matters after that.

No bragging, everybody did something for a living and that is part of what I did.l I am just telling you those who worked in these fields are well aware of all your concerns, and want to assure you we can do it, as we have done it.

Nov 29, 2014
Gkam in a developed society the grid must be available on a 24/7 basis. At this point in time I really doubt that wind and solar can replace much more than say 20% total power use in any section of the grid without relying on the equivalent amount of fossil backup power. As you well know, any disruption to generating facilities can cause a major shutdown of regional grid sections.

Until some sort of economical energy storage is developed wind and solar will be minor players. Yes some European countries have a higher % of renewables but that is only because they are connected to a grid that can make up the difference with nuclear or fossil backup sources when output falls.

Here in the US we were perilously close to grid collapse last winter due to high demand. Since then generating facilities have been shut down and federal government regulations will shut down a few more in 2015. Natural gas supplies are below normal.

Nov 29, 2014
If this years winter is as bad as last years winter in the US expect major grid disruptions and a huge social and economic impact.

Nov 29, 2014
" I really doubt that wind and solar can replace much more than say 20% total power use in any section of the grid without relying on the equivalent amount of fossil backup power."
-------------------------------------------

Okay. I doubt cold fusion will save us. I know nukes won't.

Are you aware of the plethora of microclimates in the West? Are you aware of the 500 kV Intertie? The 750kV DC line? Our grid is large and diverse. I do not know about yours, but your impression of it is not correct.

Nov 29, 2014
You can have all the DCKV lines you want but if you do not have power to feed them someplace, somewhere there will be a blackout!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 29, 2014
Gkam lets say you were the Energy Czar of the US. What percentage of the coal, nuclear and gas plants would you shut down in the next 5 years. I picked five years because "Five Year Plans" seem to be a favorite of governmental type zealots.

Nov 29, 2014
It is not up to me, it is up to the circumstances. Everything is site-and-situation-specific.

I am trying to tell you your concept of how it all works is not correct.

And we have the DC line, exactly because we had remote power sources on our grid, (hydro), and we cover huge areas. PG&E's service territory was 94,000 square miles when I was with them. Do you think it does not blow somewhere all the time, from the Sierras to the Valleys to the thousand-mile coast? Is everywhere in eight Western states overcast at once?

Do you think we will only rely on solar PV and wind for power?

BTW, nuclear and coal plants are closing and will continue to close for economics.

Nov 29, 2014
"BTW, nuclear and coal plants are closing and will continue to close for economics."

Economics not politics right?

Nov 29, 2014
Look up the health care and environmental costs of coal power.

You can find it fairly easily. Shall I do it for you?

Nov 29, 2014
Using 'Eikka' pessimistic number of 59,000 homes (not 160,000), the $1000 billion spent so far since 2003 on America's stupid war against Iraq could (in theory) have instead been used to build solar power plants for about 23 million homes. That is not enough for all homes, but it is a huge chunk.

But in practice finding enough land for the solar cells, and enough water to repeatedly clean them etc, might be excessively problematic.

For Americans who want to understand G.W.Bush's Iraq war, read the book "Arrows of the Night" by Richard Bonin about Ahmed Chalabi.

Nov 29, 2014
" The average commercial electricity rate in South California is 11.81¢/kWh so 5 cents is a bargain! All that energy is in real time exactly when air conditioning load peaks"

@MR166 5 cents is closer to the average wholesale rate paid by the distributors. Triple that and all the energy sensitive industries move to other states or countries.
Then you agree that solar panels are three times more affordable than retail electricity, yes? If alternative providers must raise their rates, what is the problem if they move elsewhere? I doubt they will, since the cheap solar power we both agree is three times more affordable will simply drive prices lowers to compete

@edshort4 Conservative accounting estimates Iraq war costs above $5trillion, not one $trillion. Costs of wars conservatively estimated at $8trillion since 70s. In reality since military is about 4.5% GDP, war spending must be double that conservative estimate

Nov 29, 2014
"Then you agree that solar panels are three times more affordable than retail electricity, yes? If alternative providers must raise their rates, what is the problem if they move elsewhere? I doubt they will, since the cheap solar power we both agree is three times more affordable will simply drive prices lowers to compete"

Koch... if wholesale fossil power is 5c/KWH and wholesale solar is 15c/KWH ( in reality more like 25c without subsidies ) how can "Cheap Solar" be more affordable?????

Nov 29, 2014
No Green I am claiming that a power plant that only provides 121MWH on a daily basis and costs 2.5 Billion Dollars works out to be about 25 cents/KWH over it's 25 year estimated lifetime.

Nov 29, 2014
My thermodynamics of power systems for my Master of Science covered the rest. I really was Senior Engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric in the 1980's, and consulted to power companies in technical matters after that
MS in WHAT gkam? Youve already stated that you have no education, no degree, and no licence to practice engineering of any sort. So why do continue to call yourself an engineer??

I showed how the term engineer is used by unions and job shops to indicate certain tech positions and pay scales which are not supposed to be filled with real engineers. Like mechanics and pool maintenance people. Remember?

What makes you think that lying about your backround will lend any credibility at all to what you say? Even if you were the engineer you claim to be, which youre not, what makes you think that BRAGGING about it lends any cred to what you say?

Nobody else here does this do they? Most rely on facts to make points, not phony cred. Are you insecure perhaps?

Nov 29, 2014
Look up the health care and environmental costs of coal power.

You can find it fairly easily. Shall I do it for you?
People with an MS know that it is meaningless without knowing IN WHAT. Do you have an MS in admin? Nursing perhaps?

No matter. You still post nonsense. And claiming that some MS makes your nonsense any more credible only makes it LESS so, Do you understand?

Nov 29, 2014
I see it is difficult for those not in the business to understand how all the potential problems are well-considered before the plants are built. Why do you keep on questioning and and making up fears regarding energy alternatives?

How many kinds of powerplants have you been in? Ever do a thermo analysis of one? Understand how to integrate various technologies?

Just wondering.

Nov 29, 2014
"No Green I am claiming that a power plant that only provides 121MWH on a daily basis and costs 2.5 Billion Dollars works out to be about 25 cents/KWH over it's 25 year estimated lifetime."

Sorry I made a big mistake here. I should be 121*24 MWH which is worth 53 Million a year at 5 cents a KWH. It takes 142 million a year to pay off a 2.5 billion dollar loan 3% interest in 25 years. or say as a nice round figure 15 cents/KWH, or 3x normal rates, just for principal and interest.

Nov 29, 2014
@FTCause

"9.5 square miles of land to power, at best, 160k homes only when the sun is shining???"

Because it is profitable.

(This was another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions).

Nov 29, 2014
"How many kinds of powerplants have you been in? Ever do a thermo analysis of one? Understand how to integrate various technologies?

Just wondering."

-How many automobiles you been in? Ever change the oil in one? Ever integrate various technologies like wiper blades and K&N filters? Do you think this makes you an automotive engineer?

Probably.

What's your MS in - BS?

Just wondering.

Nov 29, 2014
Look at the simplicity of this operation,and compare it to Unit six or unit seven at Moss Landing, a natural gas plant operating in the supercritical region of steam, at the limit of metallurgy. The turbine generators operate in cross-compound with multiple reheats. It all has to work together, and requires many men.

How much CO2 does the PV system emit?

Nov 30, 2014
Despite endless squabbling over numbers, solar and wind energy in the United States continued to expand, gradually supplanting the need for coal and nuclear generation. By the time half the country was driving electric cars, the debate was essentially over. Unfortunately, sea levels by then had risen five feet, and a third of all Gulf Coast real estate was under water...

Nov 30, 2014
"Despite endless squabbling over numbers,................Unfortunately, sea levels by then had risen five feet, and a third of all Gulf Coast real estate was under water..."

What drivel! "Numbers" IE the cost of electricity does not matter and the floods are coming due to CO2. Both statements are pure left wing propaganda.

Nov 30, 2014
Look at the simplicity of this operation,and compare it to Unit six or unit seven at Moss Landing, a natural gas plant operating in the supercritical region of steam, at the limit of metallurgy. The turbine generators operate in cross-compound with multiple reheats. It all has to work together, and requires many men.

How much CO2 does the PV system emit?


LOL! At the limit of Metallurgy? WTF does that even mean? You make it sound like a machine that is built to run for millions of cycle hours is a fragile piece of equipment. Again proving that you don't know the first thing about anything of the claims you have made.

Nov 30, 2014
Green here is your own statement.
"Granted that number does not include interest on the loan"

Well as I stated with my number, I included 3% interest.

I am neither mistaken or dishonest.

Nov 30, 2014
Thus, that accounts for about 3x the cost of solar. The 4x-5x is a somewhat lazy guess that includes labor, land taxes, maintenance and degradation of the cells over time due to dirt and exposure.

If you want to fault me for the 4x-5x number that would take more work to defend.

Nov 30, 2014
In all fairness the only reason that the cost of a KWH is so low is because of our installed base of Nuclear and Coal generating plants. It costs 4 cents/KWH just for the natural gas to run a gas fired plant. But if we run willy nilly and shut down all of the older plants KWH costs will skyrocket and manufacturing will be forced to find cheaper countries to do business.

Nov 30, 2014
In fairness, those of you not in the business are blind men with the elephant.

Nov 30, 2014
While the costs of renewables comes down, the cost of burning Dirty Coal continues to go up, as the industry struggles to control its pollution.

Why do we still have those who oppose us?

Nov 30, 2014
The average Californian home uses 18,000 kWh a year.

The Topaz plant is projected to operate at 0.22 capacity factor, therefore it will provide the yearly output of 59,000 average Californian homes.

Other PV systems in California have shown to operate at a capacity factor of 0.148. Adjusting for the same, the real output may be as low as 39,000 average homes.

In any case, nowhere near the 160,000 promised. That's a completely made up number that doesn't correspond with anything.



Where does data about average electricity consumption of CA home comes from? Simple check with PG&E web site says that average CA household uses ~7,000 kWh per year, which is less than half of what you claim. US Average is ~11,000 kWh.

Also, what is "capacity factor"?

Nov 30, 2014
"In all fairness the only reason that the cost of a KWH is so low is because of our installed base of Nuclear and Coal generating plants."
--------------------------------------------------

When the installed base of wind and PV power is paid off, what will the cost of power from them be?

Nov 30, 2014
"Simple check with PG&E web site says that average CA household uses ~7,000 kWh per year, which is less than half of what you claim. US Average is ~11,000 kWh."
-----------------------------------------
Californians use less electricity than the rest of you. Our climate is usually better, and we are conservation and resource-conscious. It gets well over a hundred degrees here in the Summer, yet I need no A/C, tuning the house to the changing diurnal temperatures and conditions.


Nov 30, 2014
"When the installed base of wind and PV power is paid off, what will the cost of power from them be?"

I really don't know because who knows the useful life of a wind farm or how much power a PV cell puts out after 25 years.

Nov 30, 2014
Yes, you do. They pay off in a few years, then give us essentially free power.

No CO2. No Mercury. No respirable particulates. No water waste. No radionuclides, no toxic coal slurry.

Nov 30, 2014
"They pay off in a few years" This is a blatant falsehood at prevailing electric rates.

Nov 30, 2014
No, it is not. PV's generate their power during the peak period, when the prices are highest, and are assessed by time-of-use, so paybacks are brief, usually seven years or less, and the systems last for 20-30 years.

Folk who work during the day get full highest peak prices for their PV power, then use their own at night, when prices are at the lowest.

And I would be a little more careful about calling others as spreaders of untruths.

Nov 30, 2014
Wholesale prices for PV are now down to 71 CENTS per Watt!

What does it cost for a nuke plant?
How long to put it up?
How much to operate with that immense crew of the Nuclear Priesthood?
Where to store the waste?

Nov 30, 2014
It is time to look into the official analysis of energy source costs.

Google "Updated Capital Cost Estimates for Utility Scale Electricity" and find the pdf.

The game is over.

Nov 30, 2014
"Wholesale prices for PV are now down to 71 CENTS per Watt!"

Well this one costs almost $5/watt installed and ready to run. Let's hope that future plants will cost less.

Nov 30, 2014
Hey, look up that reference from 2013. They are installed costs of the technologies of current installations.

Understand the numbers are changing every year, to the benefit of alternatives. Perhaps you will find it as enlightening as I did.

Really.

"Updated Capital Cost Estimates for Utility Scale Electricity"

Nov 30, 2014
Thus, that accounts for about 3x the cost of solar. The 4x-5x is a somewhat lazy guess that includes labor, land taxes, maintenance and degradation of the cells over time due to dirt and exposure.

If you want to fault me for the 4x-5x number that would take more work to defend.


one sick stick,

Your numbers are wishful Bullshite, and indeed, "a somewhat lazy guess " --although this is disengenuous understatement, if ever there was. 3% interest will be deducted as tax credit. Property tax has either been waived or is minimal, both circumstances which are common for any large commercial enterprise, as your Masters have made certain of lo, these many years.

All of your sniping boil down to the lone, simple, and ugly fact that you are a mere shill for BigCarbon and LibertaRandite, freimarket VampiRapist Corporatism in general.

You fool no one here, neither friend nor foe.

Go choke on your own snake oil.

Nov 30, 2014
"No Green I am claiming that a power plant that only provides 121MWH on a daily basis and costs 2.5 Billion Dollars works out to be about 25 cents/KWH over it's 25 year estimated lifetime."

Sorry I made a big mistake here. I should be 121*24 MWH which is worth 53 Million a year at 5 cents a KWH. It takes 142 million a year to pay off a 2.5 billion dollar loan 3% interest in 25 years. or say as a nice round figure 15 cents/KWH, or 3x normal rates, just for principal and interest.


Your calculation is wrong. 550 MW installed capacity will produce between 6,000 and 7,000 MWh per day, not 2,600 as you claim. The cost of electricity over 30 year period will be therefore roughly 8 cents/kWh. As an all of above strategy, this is more than reasonable cost, especially considering that wider use of such energy source will further reduce cost of PV.

Nov 30, 2014
"Wholesale prices for PV are now down to 71 CENTS per Watt!"

Well this one costs almost $5/watt installed and ready to run. Let's hope that future plants will cost less.


The difference is in installation cost. This cost is still several times the cost of PV panels. Even with high installation cost, PV is now below 10 cents per kWh with cost continuing to come down in years to come. With rebates for PV power, cost is already competitive with other conventional sources of energy. As someone pointed out, game is over already.

Nov 30, 2014
"Then you agree that solar panels are three times more affordable than retail electricity, yes? If alternative providers must raise their rates, what is the problem if they move elsewhere? I doubt they will, since the cheap solar power we both agree is three times more affordable will simply drive prices lowers to compete"

Koch... if wholesale fossil power is 5c/KWH and wholesale solar is 15c/KWH ( in reality more like 25c without subsidies ) how can "Cheap Solar" be more affordable?????


Your number of 15 c/kWh have been challenged and shown to be more like half of that by several well grounded poss. I did not see that you have responded with facts to refute those numbers, so you do appear to be dishonest and agenda driven.

Nov 30, 2014
Despite endless squabbling over numbers, solar and wind energy in the United States continued to expand, gradually supplanting the need for coal and nuclear generation. By the time half the country was driving electric cars, the debate was essentially over. Unfortunately, sea levels by then had risen five feet, and a third of all Gulf Coast real estate was under water...

Ahhh.... a time traveler reports in...

Dec 01, 2014
We use gas.


Precisely.

The numbers given in this article - presumable represent the replacement of electricity. Your number of 8,000 Kwh - with an insolation of 6-7 hours a day - comes out just about right.

I have difficulty with this kind of language "The question is, why are we constantly being lied to when talking of green energy? "


Look. Here's the issue in a nutshell:

What if we replaced electric lightbulbs with gas lighting? Then we could say we can power even more homes with the electricity from this plant! What about gas fridges? Even better. Let's start building gas television like the old gas radios as well, while we're at it.

If you only count the electricity, you're hiding most of the problem away. You can't say you're powering a home unless you actually provide the amount of energy the home actually uses, especially when most of the energy used actually comes from fossil fuels.

Dec 01, 2014
Your calculation is wrong. 550 MW installed capacity will produce between 6,000 and 7,000 MWh per day, not 2,600 as you claim.


550 MW of solar PV will NOT produce more than 2,900 mWh an average day because the sun isn't up all the time. That corresponds to a capacity factor of 0.22 which is mentioned in the Topaz plant specifications.


Where does data about average electricity consumption of CA home comes from? Simple check with PG&E web site says that average CA household uses ~7,000 kWh per year, which is less than half of what you claim. US Average is ~11,000 kWh.

Also, what is "capacity factor"?


1) Energy consumption, not electricity consumption alone
2) The EIA.
3) It's actually closer to 8,000 kWh for the whole of California. PG&E does not serve all of California.
4) Capacity factor is the ratio between nameplate capacity and actual average output.


Dec 01, 2014
I simply take issue with this sort of illusionist environmentalism and green energy the same way I take issue with people who go "off the grid" to pretend to live independent from the system.

The attitude is beautifully illustrated in the Les "Survivorman" Stroud documentary named "Off the Grid": http://vimeo.com/22771069

Self sufficiency is almost impossible to obtain in modern society. But wilderness survival expert Les Stroud proves that it can still be done.


The man built a cabin in the woods by hauling in supplies with trucks and helicopters (!), admits he doesn't understand a thing about how his solar panels and batteries work, only uses them for light and the TV anyhow, and hauls in propane tanks on a snowmobile/truck from the nearest town!

This is what epitomizes alternative energy today.

Dec 01, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Dec 01, 2014
You folk are arguing on the sidelines, while others are changing the world.

Dec 01, 2014
Selena, your article is more than seven years old. That is last century to PV technology and prices. And before you accept those numbers from an admittedly-anti-green group, you should compare them to those from other sources, and see which ones are more credible.

Look up "updated_capcost", or "Updated Capital Costs" of the generation technologies from EIA. It is a year and a half old, but you can see PV is already better than other generation,. and so is wind, if all considerations of operational cost and fuel cost and the lack of gross water use, and the need to deal with waste and pollutants.

Please note these are capital costs, of building the systems, the operational costs, which dwarf the capital costs are vastly different between renewables and fossil fuels.

Dec 01, 2014
Another nightmare for the ISO. It still has to be backed up by fossil at minimum load. A costly and environmentally unfriendly way to insure the grid. Power plant setting at minimum load waiting to bail them out when the clouds roll in.

Dec 02, 2014
Porgie it just does not matter if backup power exists or not when the solar power stops and crashes the grid. The excuses have all ready been written blaming greedy corporations for the blackouts. The excuses will be posted as fast as a person can cut and paste from a preexisting word document.

Dec 02, 2014
@Porgie Another nightmare for the ISO. It still has to be backed up by fossil at minimum load.
Minimum load doesn't require backup

Dec 02, 2014
"Porgie it just does not matter if backup power exists or not when the solar power stops and crashes the grid."
-------------------------------------

MR166 is going to extinguish the Sun.

Why can't he get it that power professionals know what they are doing, even if those on the outside do not understand it?

Dec 02, 2014
http://cleantechn...st-ever/

So much for expensive power.

Dec 02, 2014
Gkam If all the figures are correct in the article...........Hooray for solar energy!!!!!! ANYTHING and I repeat ANYTHING that lowers the overall cost of energy is a blessing to mankind.

Dec 02, 2014
Yup. Even cold fusion, if they get it working.

Dec 02, 2014
Okay, MR166, now do you want to hear the bad news?

It has to do with the synthesis of the sine wave, and the generation of harmonic frequencies in the system..

Dec 02, 2014
Yup,,,,,,,,,,,,,,fusion,,,,cold,hot,witchcraft anything that reduces the price of energy to the nation without government subsidies is a great big plus to me just as long as taxpayers do not have to pay for it.

Dec 02, 2014
"World's largest solar farm" is AWESOME! I'm so impressed that a for profit company can read the writing on the wall and invest big dollars in an utility like this. It makes me want to look over the stocks I'm investing in. @MR166 just doesn't understand crap about the energy market. The big bucks realize, solar is a free source of capital for years and years. "Build it and they will come!" That is solar.

The fun part is solar is technology driven. So 15 year from now, there will be a new generation of silicon, new large scale battery tech, and hopefully a new smart grid II. Good things are about to happen dude.


Dec 02, 2014
Hottie, did you read my post regarding how German utilities are splitting off their coal and nuclear plants, hoping to get others to buy them? If you like, I will look it up for you.


Dec 02, 2014
"Ones" without comment.

otto must be back.

Dec 03, 2014
Yup,,,,,,,,,,,,,,fusion,,,,cold,hot,witchcraft anything that reduces the price of energy to the nation without government subsidies is a great big plus to me just as long as taxpayers do not have to pay for it.


Tax payers paying for it.. you mean like we subsidize gas exploration, cleanup, environmental damage and health care costs?

Those kinds of things that tax payers pay for? Those expenses that cause your taxes to go up so gas companies can offer dirt cheap fuel for nothing more than you paying higher taxes?

Good. I'd like those subsidies that tax payers pay for stopped too.


Dec 03, 2014
I find it shocking that you can still find warehouse roofs not totally covered with solar panels.

All that wasted real estate. All those flat roofs trying desperately to keep the sun off them and keep down their AC bills when they could shade the entire building with solar panels that make them money.

Dec 03, 2014
"The average Californian home uses 18,000 kWh a year."

We use about 5,000 kWh a year. And we own an electric car.

Before that, it was around 3,000 kWh.

If you're going to accuse others of pulling numbers out of their butt, please do not do the same.

Dec 04, 2014
Example of a solar thermal project that rivals nuclear for power, continues to produce electricity at night & cables its power to Europe from Tunisia across the Mediterranean:-

http://www.reuter...+Popular

So many places in north africa could do this and grow food crops underneath the reflectors by choosing a suitable crop which only needs indirect/diffuse light etc

Selena/imido socks puppets claimed
.. Until such a solar plant will pay itself, it contributes to carbon footprint (and imbalance of grid, between many others) instead - it's as simple as it is...
There is a wealth of technical input mobilised to address shift to renewables as the example presented here shows, this particular project won't have offset costs for nuclear waste now will it or health problems re particulates & adding plants can also offset higher CO2 than used to build it !

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