Monday, March 2, 2015

On the California Valley Solar Ranch/Power Plant

Take a good look at it, people, 'cause this is your tax money in action; $1.6 billion in state and federal subsidies (refer to Lipton and Krauss, New York Times, 2011). And here are some additional stats; an exorbitant $6.4 million per megawatt, 1,500 acres of space (far removed from the point of actual usage), a pitiful operating capacity of 22%, and a belief by most folks that the sucker will never turn a profit long term (yes, there will be money made due to the subsidies and the usual suspects of course will be reaping the benefits;  the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, G.E., Google, etc.)...............................................................................................And of course there are other options, for Christ sakes. I mean, just take a quick look at natural gas; the fact that those plants can be set up on as little as 10 to15 acres (and in much closer proximity to the actual usage), operate at close to 90% capacity, and cost just $1.5 million per megawatt. That, and the carbon footprint (if in fact you're worried about such things - I'm not) is probably similar to Solar when you take the time to figure in the extremely important concept of resource intensity (the amount of energy, resources, etc. to bring it to market). But, yeah, I know, natural gas doesn't fit the template and so we'll probably have to empty out our wallets for more of this cronyism well into the future.


dmarks said...

Has anyone done the math....
like if we went to this type of thing for ALL of the nations needs, we'd need an electric farm the size of Asia and have to spend $300 trillion to make it? That is a guess, but it is probably not too far off from the truth.

BB-Idaho said...

With India and China building lots of those arrays, there must
be some positives?

dmarks said...

Could be true, BB.

Either that, or the US doesn't hold a tight monopoly on bad ideas.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Roger Pielke is a rare fellow in that he seems to be well respected on both sides of this whole climate debate, and Pielke HAS crunched the numbers. According to him, in order for the world to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2050 (and please, keep in mind here that guys like Obama and Gore want to reduce it by 80%!!), we would have to totally eliminate coal and natural gas, reduce our oil usage by 40% and in order to compensate this we would have to build 2,000,000 of these solar farms - the cost of which, dmarks, I wouldn't even hazard a guess at this point.

dmarks said...

Will, am I doing my math right? 2 million of these would end up being 4,687,500 square miles.

Now, the US is 3,794,083 square miles.

Again, correct me if I did this wrong. but my wild guess about wind farms the size of Asia weren't too far off: the requirement for this is larger than the area of the US.

To clear the land for it would require mass depopulation of territory unseen in human history. And the impact on the environment: remember the one in California pretty much erases birds.

Not sure how you would clear such an area to take care of energy needs. WD's hero Stalin probably would have a lot of ideas on how to do this.