How Green Was My Bankruptcy? “Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands” Edition

The agency has already approved 17 large-scale solar energy projects on public lands that are expected to produce nearly 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1.8 million homes. The department estimated the resource potential of the newly identified development zones at 23,700 megawatts, enough to power seven million homes, by 2030.

Wow! 23,700 megawatts! That’s a lot of megawatts! Right?

No. It’s not…

If all 285,000 acres were covered with solar PV arrays, the “Hot Spots” could have a generating capacity of about 40,000 MW at a cost of about $252 billion.If the same 285,000 acres were covered with natural gas-fired power stations, the “Hot Spots” could have a generating capacity of about 1.8 million MW (1.8 Terawatts) at a cost of about $1.5 trillion.

To put this in a little better perspective…

US electric utilities added an average of 22,734 MW of generating capacity per year from 2001-2010. If the “Hot Spots” acreage was devoted to that annual capacity growth…

Solar PV would consume all 285,000 acres in 21 months at a cost of $143 billion per year.

It would take 80 years for natural gas-fired plants to cover the 285,000 acres at a cost of $19 billion per year.

If every acre of the newly designated Federal land was developed for solar power, it would cover less than two years of the average annual incremental growth in US generating capacity.

It really is ironic that President Obama thinks that, “Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil,” while his administration crows about setting aside 285,000 acres of public land for solar power development that can’t even match our average incremental generation capacity growth for two years.

I wonder if the people who oppose developing ANWR because, by itself, it might only cover a few years of our total oil consumption, are simply giddy about “Boot” Salazar’s latest boondoggle…

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98 thoughts on “How Green Was My Bankruptcy? “Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands” Edition

  1. The radical environmentalists have sufficiently lost touch with reality that they do not realize that we are not going to power this country/world with solar/wind/biomass this century. They refuse to look at hard numbers.

  2. Having stumbled through reams of government/PR-speak, the nearest I can figure is that these quoted values of power production are maximum values—you know, mid-day on June 21.

    It’s a common trick played by these sorts. Quote the maximum power capacity (MW), not the actual energy production (MWh).

  3. Solar power is intermittent, as is wind power, so they save fuel but they also greatly increase electricity costs. A traditional generating capacity equal to all renewable capacity is needed for those times when the renewables don’t generate ,at night and when no wind blows. Since renewable energy generating istallation cost are more than double tradition energy cost and adding that to the traditional cost we will see investment costs more than triple and rates more than double. Can people afford this? We see energy poverty starting already in Europe. The only technology that would prevent this cost increase is energy storage. But that’s not available yet nor is it likely for some time.

  4. They are going to pave over 285,000 acres with solar cells?????
    Don’t these projects require an environmental impact statement?
    What is this paving over going to do to the local ecosystem? What will all these solar panels do to the local microclimate?
    Where do the idiots who dream up these schemes come from?

  5. Every time there is some article in the local newspaper talking about a school or some other public building getting solar, I ask:

    What are the capital costs?

    What are the operating costs?

    How much energy is going to be produced each day/week/month/year?

    What is the expected life expectancy of the equipment?

    ROI?

    I never get a response. I really believe the journalists covering these stories simply do not get engineering numbers.

    All of these projects are defined in terms of capacity, not actual production.

    Here’s an example right here in Denver, Colorado.

    Obama was up on the roof of the museum with Joe Biden and the new solar arrays. It was extolled as the type of thing we could all enjoy with the new ‘green’ economy.

    First, no one could get the basic numbers, as mentioned above. Finally, the numbers were obtained. Pay back in 110 years, with a life expectancy of 20 years on the panels.

    Read all about it here:

    http://slapstickpolitics.blogspot.com/2009/03/denver-museums-solar-panels-touted-as.html

  6. They must really really really believe it’s going to work. I’m reminded of that planned arctic sea crossing where they figure they’ll run everything off a solar panel. They have no idea. Of course when it fails, they’ll blame the skeptics. They’ll say we planted weeds in the way or something, or that we’re wasting the energy or maybe using more than our “fair share” and therefore we’re undermining the whole thing. Seriously, watch them blame us when it doesn’t work. Same with wind power failure, that’ll be our fault too. It’s always our fault, in their view, it can’t possibly be their own. We will always be “evil” in their eyes, blocking them from successfully returning humankind to the wonderful Garden of Eden. Sigh.

  7. They don’t consider opportunity cost. Or, from another perspective, they apparently haven’t considered the environmental impact on local wildlife. These lands are not empty sandlots. There are some very amazing a beautiful things living there. I guess our leaders would rather kill off some rodents, cactus, bats, birds, grasses, lizards, snakes, insects, and much more, for political gain. Here you have real environmental damage as opposed to drilling a hole and extracting a resource. I’d like them to demonstrate actual damage from drilling compared to placing PV arrays blocking the sun, and using large volumes of water to regularly clean them. There will be pipes, wires, vehicles, people, over thousands of acres. Do the materials exist to build them?

    The EIA has traditionally projected negligible growth in solar and wind power compared with our actual consumption. I doubt the real numbers will turn out any different from the previous projections (far less than 1% of power from solar – 3 GW PV solar vs 1030 GW total in 2030 see http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2012&subject=6-AEO2012&table=9-AEO2012&region=0-0&cases=ref2012-d020112c, and http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2012&subject=6-AEO2012&table=67-AEO2012&region=3-0&cases=ref2012-d020112c).

    It’s amazingly funny that the tables show a jump in PV generation from 1 GW now, to 3 GW in 2030, to 8 GW in 2035. OK, sure, it’s just a projection. Seems like politically-inspired BS to me.

  8. Hey, I get first dibs on supplying lambs and kids to keep down the weeds and grass…
    ___________________________
    Might as well get something useful from the project and my tax dollar that pays for it.

  9. The numbers are grossly overstated. Let’s do a little approximation of actual energy produced.
    1 acre = 4,046 square metres

    So the entire 285,000 acre land alotment available is
    4.046 x 2.85 x 10(8)

    Now the amount of sunlight hitting the surface of our planet at this latitude is approximately 300 W/sq/m

    So the theoretical amount of energy hitting this surface area is:
    3 x 4.046 x 2.85 x 10(10) watts or
    approximately 36,000 MW

    However, only 12 per cent of photons can actually release an electron; the rest don’t have sufficient energy. So the actual energy production capacity out of this facility is only about 36,000 x 12% = 4320 MW (approximate).

    In short, the government can’t even calculate the power capacity right, let alone the far more complex problem of actual energy production which is dependent upon hours of available direct sunlight. Indirect light by cloud overcast will reduce production by about 80 per cent.

    So no, Dave, it doesn’t cover a couple of years of our incremental energy demand growth. It covers a couple of months at best. When you take the actual likely capacity factor of the solar installation into account, probably all you’re going to get is about six weeks worth, if that.

    Now let’s go on with this piece of terminal silliness from the peerless (in their matchless stupidty) Department of the Interior. This is pretty much located in Nevada. Gets awful dusty there, doesn’t it? That creates two problems at least.

    1. How do you expect to clean them off after a dust storm? Men with brooms? All 285,000 acres of them? You’re going to need every curler in the world for that job. Ah, wait for the occasional rainstorm, you say? Fine, how are you going to clean off the residue from the rain? Abrasion from the subsequent dust storm?

    2. Even very light surface scratching, i.e. from the above-mentioned dust storms, reduces solar cell capacity by up to 75 per cent from reflection and refraction effects. In Nevada’s desert? Odds are the entire array will be worthless junk in less than three years.

  10. If all 285,000 acres were covered with solar PV arrays, the “Hot Spots” could have a generating capacity of about 40,000 MW at a cost of about $252 billion.

    Let’s put this into perspective: Each month, the tax ‘take’ into the US Treasury is about 200 Billion (Billion with a “B”) dollars …

    Stating it another way, a project for 285,000 acres would cost over 1/12 (one twelfth) of what the US Govt takes-in in a year … and we would still be still paying (and/or borrowing) to pay for everything else Uncle Sugar has committed to ‘buying’ (the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coasties, all social ‘entitlements’ (outside of SS), congressional earmarks, numerous ‘grants’, Foreign Aid, Farm ‘payments’ for _not_ growing certain crops, USDA, FDA, NASA, NOAA, FAA, IRS etc etc etc)

    .

  11. Ah, but Mr. Middleton, how quickly we forget! The energy requirements of our elitist’s planned Agenda 21 “walkable/sustainable” stack-and-pack Ecopoli will supposedly be easily met with a few solar panels and a windmill or two. And even giving that, they will merely supplement our main sources of heat and light–the burning of peat and candles. Gaia’s recently divorced Ex reveals the true cause of their separation:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jun/15/james-lovelock-fracking-greens-climate?newsfeed=true
    Yet, we have hope:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/05/climate_change_conference_marks_progress_for_realists.html

  12. “enough to power about 1.8 million homes”

    for six hours provided the sun shines – what do they do for the remaining 18 hours??

    I am utterly sick of these kind of statements that are complete lies!

  13. how’s this? “ALL” power generated in Oz in 8 years’ time MUST come from renewables, says Babs at the ABC:

    26 July: ABC Australia: Babs McHugh: Wind power more likely than solar to attract investment
    Both the Federal Government and the Opposition have agreed on renewable energy targets (RET), so all power generated in Australia by 2020 must come from renewable sources…
    However, she says renewables are still struggling to gain ground against fossil fuels and they still need public incentives…
    Ms Mey says it’s expected that, within the next 20 years, renewables will provide six gigawatts of energy.
    “But that depends on government commitment and investment activities,” she said…

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201207/s3554081.htm

    the real figure!

    Renewable Energy Target
    In August 2009, the Government implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme, which is designed to deliver on the Government’s commitment to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/ret

    and you wonder why CAGW zealots will never understand the CAGW science!

  14. @Willhelm – couldn’t agree more. The large land footprint required for any renewables installation never seems to get a mention. Solar especially, seems to be installed in marginal areas, from an agricultural POV but those same marginal areas often contain a very diverse animal/plant home range. In Australia, if a dam project was proposed, all manner of ‘conservationists’ would be all over it defending plant and animal species affected. Perhaps they think deserts or arid lands are dead instead of being amazing places. I’m all for high density energy production and I believe that makes me a conservationist in the best sense.

  15. Wow! You could power 19 Deloreans with 23,000 megawatts.

    [REPLY: Uhhh... only those modified, special edition DeLoreans, and I think we were supposed to be dealing with gigawatts... so we couldn't even power one. -REP]

  16. same garbage all over. This is the same fairy tales promoted in soon to be bankrupt euroland. Never mind that 23,000 MW is rated nameplate power available at best for 4-5 hours per day, on sunny days (and not every day is sunny last time I checked). Someone has to explain to the idiots spending taxpayers’ money that there is a difference between MW and MWhrs., and the only thing pv’s can accomplish is to reduce peak demand on sunny days. Not bad as a concept if one is exceedingly rich.

    23,000 solar “MW” cannot produce enough useful power to manufacture a single pv cell (or a single Delorean ball bearing).

  17. How many conventional (meaning capable of full-time output) power stations will be shut down as a result? What is the cost/MW over 20 years? Where does the power go at night? Many of these hotspots get snow. Sometimes for long periods. Some of these places have hydro and can’t bank the water. What… oh screw it.

    I quit – this is too stupid. Only the government could come up with this kind of idiocy.

  18. “The radical environmentalists have sufficiently lost touch with reality that they do not realize that we are not going to power this country/world with solar/wind/biomass this century. They refuse to look at hard numbers.”

    Sorry, I don’t agree with this.

    They do know the numbers, and they believe there numbers do stack up.. and the greenie numbers probably do stack up, even on a cloudy day, for one very simple reason…Their idea of ‘standard of living’, and our idea of standard of living are two very, very different things.

    Take away all the street lighting, xboxes, plasma TV’s, mass production of x, y and z, airconditioning, cars, automated anything, medical research, materials research, international shipping and air travel etc etc etc… and hey presto, we can power what would be left of ‘modern’ society with a few solar farms.

  19. What’s quite amazing to me, and appalling as well, is that the Greenies will shut down huge acres of agricultural land in CA and elsewhere to save some tiny critter, then ignore the loss of species and habitat that will inevitably result if their mad energy schemes were to come to fruition.

    These are truly brain-dead people. It’s not fair to call enviro-mentalism a religion, because not even (modern) western religions behave as irrationally as these folks, in terms of forcing their beliefs down our gullets.

    So: foie gras in out in CA, but wind farms are in!!

  20. Anyone have the impression that the officials at the Department of the Interior have been staring deep into their own interiors to come up with crap like this?

  21. [SNIP: If all you have to offer is school yard insult, then go away until you grow a brain. -REP]

  22. cgh says: “So the theoretical amount of energy hitting this surface area is:
    3 x 4.046 x 2.85 x 10(10) watts or
    approximately 36,000 MW”
    Shouldn’t that be 360,000 MW?
    If so, then an efficiency of around 12% would yield the 40,000 MW mentioned in the post.
    As for keeping the panels clean, I’ve always thought that must be a much bigger problem than most people realise.

  23. Oh, you want to talk about economics? Fine, assume that $252 billion buys you the 4320 MW of actual solar PV generation covering the entire 285,000 acres. Now otherwise we could that that $252 billion and build approximately 20 nuclear reactors at 1000 MW apiece.

    That’s 20,000 MW running at 80 per cent average lifetime capacity for about 60 years compared to the paltry 4320 MW you get from building the solar arrays. That’s more than a 4:1 cost ratio in just construction costs between solar and nuclear, and we haven’t even taken into account that the solar capacity factor, with diurnal and atmospheric variations, will be somewhere in the order of 25 per cent with a supposed lifetime of 20 years.

    And people have the gall to say that nuclear is expensive.

  24. 20 years in the desert southwest? I live here. It won’t happen. Those silly panels won’t make it a couple of years without constant TLC.

  25. All of this green energy costs money to develop and we have seen that it doesn’t happen without the backing of Uncle Sam and Dear Uncle is broke, and must borrow to do anything. The US government is being offered “teaser rates” on the money it is borrowing. This same deal was offered to home buyers a few years ago. Anyone not familiar with how this worked out has some reading to do. As the US claims to be a “full faith and credit” operation the future will play out a little differently when the rates reset and become non-zero. My guess is that the phrase “higher taxes” will be involved. If anyone claims to know how this will work out – please provide the information.

  26. They say that a digital billboard can consume up to 30 times the energy that an average American home uses.

    So, to rephrase their statement, the department estimated the resource potential of the newly identified development zones at 23,700 megawatts, enough to power 233,333 digital billboards – like the ones that Al Gore and Forecast the Facts used to to spread their message during the Heartland conference.

    Or, for another comparison, look where all the selected zones are – in Nevada. How long would 23,700 megawatts last on the Las Vegas strip?

    According to a Forbes article (in 2007) Las Vegas uses 5,600MW on a summer day and is expected to use 8,000MW by 2015. It’s hard to determine how much the strip uses by itself, but the article says that the casinos consume 20% of the city’s entire electricity demand. Of course, not all of the casinos in Vegas are on the strip, but on the other hand the strip has more on it than just casinos.

    20 percent of 5600MW equals 1120MW.

    23700/1120 equals about 21 summer days. For the rest of the year, they’d be on the grid.

    Source: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2007/0312/092.html

  27. John F. Hultquist;
    If anyone claims to know how this will work out – please provide the information.
    >>>>>>

    Oooh! ooooh! ooooh! I know! I know!

    ….badly.

  28. The grid is tapped out. All intermittent loads must be firmed with reliable CCGT’s. The only thing that is getting permitted these days. Due to conflicting environmental laws pushed mainly from leftist groups don’t allow for hydro Inc’s or Dec’s any longer. Inc is incremental load due to voltage and frequency sags from wind and solar falling off. Dec’s are decremental loads or generation shedding through spills for abrupt increases in loads.
    Thus CCGT’s thus are firming all of these loads.
    Compressed Air or Underground Storage, Pumped Hydro and Batteries of all things are being tried. All grotesquely expensive.
    Recommendation: Vote in November for the party at all levels who will help put an end to this nonsense. The experiment was successful with negative results. We simply cannot afford these people any longer.

  29. “Worthless Junk in three years” sounds about right. What with Clouds, low sun angles, a sun that refuses to sit still, weeds, dust. bird droppings, hail damage, vandalism and natural decay, it could drop as low as two years with a bit of luck. By that time the bag-men will be well away with the loot, there will have been an election and the incoming government will have to sort out the mess.

  30. Miss Grundy, how very, very clever! “Anyone have the impression that tho he officials at the Department of the Interior have been staring deep into their own interiors to come up with crap like this?”

    I laughed so hard the guy next to me on the plane thought I was losing it. THAT line is going in my list of Great Truths!

  31. Ally E. says:
    July 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm
    They must really really really believe it’s going to work. I’m reminded of that planned arctic sea crossing where they figure they’ll run everything off a solar panel. They have no idea. Of course when it fails, they’ll blame the skeptics.

    Someone with some common sense evidently got to them — they installed a small wind turbine before they left (still touting the *two* solar panels, though). Seems that wasn’t enough to power all the stuff, though — last word from the intrepid quartet was that their ‘lectrical stuff wasn’t getting charged, they were out of Cheez-It® crackers, and might be putting in to Prudhoe Bay for repairs.

    Willis was right — they’ve been hugging the coast since they discovered there was no way through the ice.

  32. Bill Tuttle says:

    July 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Someone with some common sense evidently got to them — they installed a small wind turbine before they left (still touting the *two* solar panels, though). Seems that wasn’t enough to power all the stuff, though — last word from the intrepid quartet was that their ‘lectrical stuff wasn’t getting charged, they were out of Cheez-It® crackers, and might be putting in to Prudhoe Bay for repairs.

    *

    What, you mean they’re not gnawing on a polar bear by now? I THINK I got that the right way around… :)

  33. Better idea = (a) exercise federal eminent domain over every one of the Government National Mortgage Authority’s foreclosed houses in Congressman Dingy Reid’s state; (b) put those same acres of non-Solyndra solar panels on their roofs, plus cover the lawns, shrubs, walkways & driveways with them; (c) send the electricity into the homes of all wage earners the IRS identifies living nearby; (d) charge the resident a premium for participating in a cap & trade program ; (e) lather, rinse & repeat in all 57 states.

  34. And let’s not forget that panels reduce Earth’s albedo, promoting warming.
    All that low-emissivity glass reduces Earth’s thermal IR, promoting warming.
    All that fuel they burn to CO2 for these solar follies will never be displaced by their meager output, promoting warming.
    The reduced efficiency of intermittant backup generates extra CO2, promoting warming.

    It’s interesting that their other energy follies, wind and biofuel, are similarly disastrous, but that’s par for Big Govt, as always the greatest threat of all time to prosperity and liberty (without which there can be no prosperity — just read the new book ‘Why Nations Fail’).

  35. I’ve got these magic beans you can use to grow a beanstalk, then climb up and steal electricity from that mean old giant on that thunderhead cloud.

    And they cost *way* less than those solar panels.

    They work at night, too.

  36. These 285,000 acres eventually covered with PV to generate 40,000 MW (peak, nameplate) at a cost of $252 Billion.

    Let’s see how many “Trans Alaska Pipelines” (TAPS) is the equivalent of that energy.
    1 TAPS = 600,000 BO/day (Bbl. of Oil per day) or 25,000 BO/hr.
    1 BO = 1.73 MWhr [1] energy equivalent.
    25,000 BO/hr * 1.73 MWhr/BO = 43,250 MW

    But let’s convert the oil into electricity, with reasonable conversion loss,
    Let’s say 1 BO yields 1 MWHr electricity.
    Therefore 25,000 BO/hr * 1 MWhr elec / BO = 25,000 MW electricity.

    So the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, currently running at 1/3 of its design capacity and in danger of being shut down because the flow rate must be kept high enough to keep it from freezing solid is supplying us with 25,000 MWhr of electricity

    Those 285,000 acres with 40,000 MW is therefore about 1.6 Trans Alaska Pipelines.
    Oh, but that 40,000 MW is NAME PLATE, Maximum output at noon on a cloudless day.
    Average output is probably about 20 % of that or 8,000 MW.

    I conclude that the DOI’s $252 Billion plan will provide Electricity that is
    equivalent to only one third of a Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
    What is more, we don’t have to build the pipeline…it has been running for 30+ years… We just have to be smart enough not to lose it through stupid policies.

    [1] Rasey: 4/1/2011 comment on Giant 7 MW Sea Fan

  37. I hope y’awl realise that renewables are not a choice?

    Your going to have to install this stuff on your homes to get power. The fossil fuel industry, at some stage is going to lose critical mass, and start, also becoming intermitent.

    Western economies are in their death throws. Productivity is falling thrugh the floor. Demographics are not condusive to growth. It’s only a matter of time from here.

    You better start getting independant of Government and Regulatory systems. They’re toast!

  38. I forgot to include these two gems from Boot’s press release…

    Sets a clear process that allows for development of well-sited projects on approximately19 million acres outside the zones;

    Protects natural and cultural resources by excluding 78 million acres from solar energy development;

    So DOI will be open to solarizing another 19 million acres… 2.66 million daylight-only megawatts at a bargain price of $16.8 trillion. 

    78 million acres were excluded “from solar energy development” to protect “natural and cultural resources.” 

    Presumably, the natural resources are being protected from development – which zeroes out their value as resources.  And… What exactly are cultural resources?  Are they like archaeological resources?  In the Gulf of Mexico, archaeological resources consist of pretty well all seafloor debris over 60 years old.  We have to avoid those debris and clean up all debris younger than 60 years old.  

  39. With our recent unseasonably warm weather across America, is anyone looking into to the wind farms impeding Nature’s air flow causing the lack of Artic air to cool the nation?

  40. And even then – there would be large environmental impacts (desert flora and fauna adapded to sun’s rays, not shadows) and one would have to hook all those solar arrays up and transmit of the electricity to those nearby centers of population.

    This ‘Renewable for Baseload’ is just a Fairy Tale.

  41. I’m still shaking with chuckles from all the snappy comments. I’ll add that the area within ANWR that those mean, evil oil companies want to drill would fit within the perimeter fence of the Atlanta airport (~ 4 sq. mi.). (A humorless comment, but a useful perspective-setter.)

    Oh, and don’t forget the transmission lines needed to connect this boondoggle together and to “the grid.”

  42. Interested,

    Right you are. My calculation was 36 x 10(4) not 3.6 x 10(4)
    (Damn those orders of magnitude anyway.)

  43. but, but you’re forgetting about the added heat island effect. there’s got to be around 78000 megawatts averaged over the day due to the decrease in albedo from something like 0.3 for sand down to 0.03 for solar panel. put another way, on average putting in a solar panel instead of a natural environment for a deep desert can change the albedo from 0.3 for sand to 0.03 for solar panel which as mentioned above can produce about 10% power from the energy coming in. Rather than the global average of 239W/m^2 being absorbed, we now have 331 W/m^2 with 90% of that becoming heat instead of 100% of 239W/m^2 so there is a net increase to 300W/m^2, an addition of 61 W/m^2 added to the environment as heat. Assuming an average T of 288.2k, that means we have to emit an additional 61 w/m^2 away from Earth out of the 239 w/m^2 already being emitted. Since only 61% makes it out from what’s being emitted from the surface, we would have to raise the surface T enough so that 61/0.61 = 100 W/m^2 of added surface emissions as compared to the 391 W/m^2 for the average T. So 491 w/m^2 would need to be emitted. That corresponds to a T avg of 305 K instead of 288.2k or an added 17 deg C increase for the area covered by solar panels using averages.
    So now we know what could possibly raise Earth’s temperature by a substantial amount, far more than a co2 doubling or two. Just convert Earth’s surface into a giant solar panel. We also now know that for every 1 watt of solar panel generation, there’s going to be about 2 w/m^2 of waste heat added to the environment so solar power cannot really generate enough power to dissipate the added heat to the environment. For small amounts of solar panels, this is not a problem but as one goes to larger and larger arrays with the intent of providing most of power, then we will start to see negative environmental impacts of regional size or larger and if most all of the land mass gets converted, then there will be substantial negative impact on the whole Earth.
    It’s as good as the old nasa idea of importing solar energy into the Earth from giant satellites using microwaves. Basically, all that added power coming in will turn up as heat after use so efficiencies matter as all the energy needed for inefficient efforts turns to heat before any use occurs. It doesn’t matter when there’s only a little bit of it but if it becomes substantial… Nuclear offers the most energy for the long term, it’s the most efficient so creates less waste heat and the big difference is that all that energy is going to be dumped into the environment as the fuel decays anyway, just at a slower rate in nature than in the power plant.

  44. Ally E. says:
    July 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm
    What, you mean they’re not gnawing on a polar bear by now? I THINK I got that the right way around…
    :)

    Heh — according to the GPS signal, they were rowing hellbent for shore about five days ago. Maybe a poley didn’t like the tunes they were “jamming to on the iPod”…

    Brian H says:
    July 27, 2012 at 12:53 am
    Bill;
    What site are you getting the Idiots’ Updates from?

    Their site’s here:

    http://www.arcticrow.com/

    — the GPS track is here:

    http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=07DgH9AHVOUKbCgNLioNTrS8DZNGhqULp

    — baby sis of one of the lads sporadically posts a blog note — pix of the boat (showing both solar panels and the Smurf-sized wind turbine) are here:

    http://www.arcticrow.com/blog/page/3/

  45. The main “ecological impact” is blading off upteen acres, BTW. The local opposition to these projects include a lot of “greenies”. In fact it is ‘they” who do most of the heavy lifting, since they know how to all too well. The real reason for the projects is the prospect of making a quick buck using the tax breaks and loans provided by the federal and state governments. That, and the free land from the BLM, were the core ingredients for this string of boondoggles (Browndoggles!). But trench warfare has slowed most of these to the point that the shaky investment constructions of the developers are crumbling away. Thank Goodness.
    I work at China Lake and the US Navy in its infinite goofiness has been paying lip service to “green” for many years. I have benefited directly from this as I can now park my Tundra gas guzzler in the shade of a multi acre parking lot solar farm! The weirdness of this are the hundreds of 4′ fluorescent lights that burn ALL NIGHT on the underside of the panels, while during the day (my working hours, usually) the lights in my lab are dimmed by computer control during peak loads. Not illogical, but weird.

  46. Even if it made sense economically to pave the desert with solar panels, the whole purpose of the green movement, even more than “saving humanity” is “saving the ENVIRONMENT” so this scheme only makes sense to the innumerate who don’t imagine how vast the area involved is. But don’t worry, the lawsuits will fly and nothing will be built.

  47. I do wish officials who boast of schemes “……. generating enough to power about xxx million homes” would qualify their statements as to whether that’s at maximum output / minimum time; average output; or – in the case of Solar – truthfully state their scheme is unlikely to power 1,000 homes continuously for 24 hours.

  48. Willhelm says:
    July 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    They are going to pave over 285,000 acres with solar cells?????
    Don’t these projects require an environmental impact statement?
    What is this paving over going to do to the local ecosystem? What will all these solar panels do to the local microclimate?
    Where do the idiots who dream up these schemes come from?
    ___________________________

    EPA environmental impact stuff is waived if it is wind or solar power. This tells you that the “Environment” is not the real issue, does it not?

    Remember the EPA has to OK a project BEFORE construction can begin.

    Solar power firms in Mojave desert feel glare of tribes and environmentalists

    …multibillion-dollar solar power projects under construction across broad swaths of desert on the California-Arizona border.

    But at least two developments, including the $1bn, 250-megawatt Genesis Solar near Blythe in the lower Colorado river valley and the Solar Millennium project, are beset with lengthy construction delays, while others are facing legal challenges lodged by environmental groups… specifically involving the flat-tailed horned toad and the desert tortoise…

    The EPA and wind vs Bats and Birds link

    Variation in bat and bird fatalities at wind energy facilities: assessing the effects of rotor size and tower height ~ Robert M.R. Barclay, E.F. Baerwald, and J.C. Gruver

    Abstract: Wind energy is a rapidly growing sector of the alternative energy industry in North America, and larger, more productive turbines are being installed. However, there are concerns regarding bird and bat fatalities at wind turbines. To assess the influence of turbine size on bird and bat fatalities, we analyzed data from North American wind energy facilities. Diameter of the turbine rotor did not influence the rate of bird or bat fatality. The height of the turbine tower had no effect on bird fatalities per turbine, but bat fatalities increased exponentially with tower height. This suggests that migrating bats fly at lower altitudes than nocturnally migrating birds and that newer, larger turbines are reaching that airspace. Minimizing tower height may help minimize bat fatalities. In addition, while replacing older, smaller turbines with fewer larger ones may reduce bird fatalities per megawatt, it may result in increased numbers of bat fatalities.

    http://www.bio.ucalgary.ca/contact/faculty/pdf/Barclay07Tur.pdf

    In other words everyone acknowledges the fact that bats and birds (esp endangered raptors) are being killed but the EPA gives a hand wave.

    …the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has asked Kern County to “exercise extreme caution” in approving projects in the Tehapachi area, because of potential threats to condors. The “conundrum will force some hard choices about the balance we are willing to strike between obtaining clean energy and preserving wild things,”…

    All Americans hope condors will not be sliced and diced by giant Cuisinarts. But most of us are puzzled that so few “environmentalists” and FWS “caretakers” express concern about the countless bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, ducks, geese, bats, and other rare, threatened, endangered and common flying creatures imperiled by turbine blades.

    And many of us get downright angry at the selective way endangered species and other wildlife laws are applied – leaving wind turbine operators free to exact their carnage, while harassing and punishing oil companies and citizens….

    http://www.masterresource.org/2012/01/killer-energy-wind/

    Then there is this: (dubious reporting origin) on Gates experiment with sulfur particulates in New Mexico: link backed up by this Groniad article I can not find anything concrete as to whether or not the project is an actual “GO” but the MSM is not about to report something that might upset the Sheeple unless it is politically advantageous.

    It is all about POWER and crippling the west so the internationalists can usher in their ‘Global Goverance’ It was never ever about the environment that was only the vehicle. The evidence of that “Con spir acy Theory” is becoming rather hard to ignore when they are so down right blatant about it. Global Governance 2025: At a Critical Juncture

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken

  49. Randle Dewees says:
    July 27, 2012 at 5:17 am
    I work at China Lake and the US Navy in its infinite goofiness has been paying lip service to “green” for many years.

    Congress just demonstrated refreshing common sense by first telling SecNav Mabus he wasn’t allowed to buy any more $27-a-gallon biofuel and then torpedoing his request for $70 million to *build* a — $25 million biofuel plant.

  50. cgh says:
    July 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    …This is pretty much located in Nevada. Gets awful dusty there, doesn’t it? That creates two problems at least.

    1. How do you expect to clean them off after a dust storm? Men with brooms? All 285,000 acres of them? You’re going to need every curler in the world for that job. Ah, wait for the occasional rainstorm, you say? Fine, how are you going to clean off the residue from the rain? Abrasion from the subsequent dust storm?

    2. Even very light surface scratching, i.e. from the above-mentioned dust storms, reduces solar cell capacity by up to 75 per cent from reflection and refraction effects. In Nevada’s desert? Odds are the entire array will be worthless junk in less than three years.
    ________________________________
    You are being optimistic. I live on a dirt road. The dust pitted my windshield in less than a year. I also worked with ceramics the raw materials are dusty and you must clean off your glasses with running water and you can not touch them with a cleaning rag. Ceramic dust (silica clay) will eat your lenses in one cleaning. Using running water does not work well but the lenses will last about six months without becoming unusable.

    The first maintenance guy who decides to cut corners and wipe the surface of the panels will trash them.

    Quartz (hardness 7) is a very common mineral and found in both the deserts of CA and Nevada.

    This whole thing has boondoggle written all over it.

  51. “Where do the idiots who dream up these schemes come from?” Well, take the Mojave desert area North of Barstow. A road 30 miles in length, travelled daily via the Gov’mt facility (Irwin) out yonder. New road required new ideas to protect the endangered Tortoise being run over by vehicles at an ‘alarming’ rate. Some-many? Ah, a protective fence 18inches high along both sides of the road with appropriately placed (?) tunnels for tortoise to use. During the Public awareness meeting in Barstow, a well educated, sun baked-skin saddle-worn seat of his Levi pants cowboy of considerable round-ups, spoke “it ain’t gona work”. Only one person asked, post official presentation, the cowboy what ‘it ain’t gona work’ means. This being a rookie green young reporter sent to do an article that none with professional experience -local newspaper, would consider being that there are more important things to do. The cowboy answered with the common To the Point – ‘number one reason those tortoises are dying from – coyote eats them all the time. Those tunnels be the feed troughs for easy-hunting coyotes”. As of today the Experts have not developed a solution to a problem they created.

    Shoot the coyotes ,as currently government (suspected of doing) shooting the invading Eastern Barred Owl may save the Western Spotted Owl from extinction.

  52. Why don’t we base this agency’s funding [law making, support of technology] on the cost per kilowatt hour of energy that they produce??

  53. cgh says:
    July 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Oh, you want to talk about economics?….
    _________________________
    Thanks for doing the math, I was just about to start digging into that and you saved me the trouble. Certainly shouts BOONDOGGLE doesn’t it?

    Time to distill this thread and send it to all our congress critters

  54. Real-time Wind Generation (and other sources) Chart for the NorthWest:

    If you’d like to see generation and load in action, here is Bonneville Power Authorities (BPA) real-time chart showing generation from Dams (42), thermal (12), wind (thousands of acres of large turbines, and one nuke plant (although they don’t include that in the numbers). At peek, BPA generates approximately 46,000 mega watts. Note that wind can generate up to 6,000 mega watts at peak. How would you like to be the one to try and predict generation for downstream consumption? http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

  55. Look at where those areas are! What will it cost to get this electricity to where it can be used? Isn’t the majority of energy used at night in Las Vegas? How will this energy be stored? It seems to me that it would be cheaper to gharge batteries at the panels and then truck them to LV NV so they could use the “free” energy. (sarc)

  56. Peak power is how many GW’s (Giggle watts). Useful when a really talented engineer develops a means of deriving power from laughter.
    He he he he he (to start him off).

  57. BPA realtime chart:

    Note that load is less than current generating capacity. further note that only a small percentage of that ‘over capacity” can be shipped due to lack of long haul transmission lines, same issue with Solar as posted in this thread. This is why you find so many data centers (and smelters) in the NorthWest. We’ve never had power issues that were not government induced.

  58. What is most annoying is the hypocrisy of so-called environmentalists who will demand demolition of a humble shack, and would never allow a proper power plant, in these places because of the terrible environmental destruction involved.

    Form trumps substance every time, with the carpetbaggers eagerly following in their wake.

  59. What’s more, large scale solar arrays “steal” sunlight from the natural environmnent, creating vast dead zones underneath. Is that “green” or what?

  60. All of the arguments here that point out the problems with renewables are of course spot on. The issue that I would like to bring up here involves the mindset of the environmentalist movement that believes in the renewables (and AGW) religion.

    On a regular basis, I like to point out the parallels that exist between the environmentalist movement on one hand and non-ecological religious cults like the Branch Davidians on the other. If there is one thing they have in common, it is the arrogant belief that they are somehow morally, intelectually and spiritually superior to the non-believers outside the cult. David Koresh fancied himself a messiah, and messiahs aren’t supposed to be wrong. He and his followers were so sure of themselves, that they were willing to burn to death for it (although not all of them were perhaps willing to do so).

    Like Koresh and his followers, the renewable energy and AGW eco-messiahs today are perceived to be blessed with a holiness and intellectual and moral superiority that precludes them from having to listen to any argument outside the faith (no matter how sound and rational it might be) that runs contrary to the sacred renewable energy and AGW doctrines—it just isn’t in the cards. The eco-messiahs are right and that’s the end of it. Case closed.

    Some have argued that renewables and the AGW theory are just the eco-messiahs’ pretext for the radical transformation of America’s culture and capitalist economy in line with their evironmental pseudo- or quasi-religious doctrine. Such a transformation would take us back to the Middle Ages (or before). This could very well be true. At any rate, their arrogance and closed mindset leaves this rational thinking person viewing them as the David Koreshes of their movement. And that’s not good.

    I fear for the day when their heads finally get so big that they begin to explode. There will be a lot of messes to be cleaned up all over the country. Yuck.

  61. Question: How are they going to control the vegetation under/around the solar panels? It’s absolutely necessary for maintenance & operation.

    Answer: Spraying defoliants on a massive scale.

    So much for any vegetation/animal-life living “under” the panels.

  62. Besides . . . . Trees are the cheapest and most efficient “Solar Collectors” out there! This coming from a little girl who sent big bucks in to by that “Solar Coths Dryer”!

  63. Gail Combs says:
    July 27, 2012 at 6:25 am
    Then there is this: (dubious reporting origin) on Gates experiment with sulfur particulates in New Mexico: link backed up by this Groniad article…

    Gail, I think Sodahead may have added 2+2 and come up with 5.

    Two Harvard professors said Tuesday they were developing a proposal for what would be a first-of-its-kind field experiment to test the risks and effectiveness of a geoengineering technology for intervening in the earth’s climate.
    The experiment, which would be conducted from a balloon launched from a NASA facility in New Mexico, would involve putting “micro” amounts of sulfate particles into the air with the goal of learning how they combine with water vapor and affect atmospheric ozone.

    The Gates connection: “Dr. Keith, who is studying other geoengineering technologies including those that would remove carbon dioxide directly from the air, is among several scientists who have received more than $4 million for such research from Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft.”

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/trial-balloon-a-tiny-geoengineering-experiment/

  64. Bill Tuttle says:
    July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Gail Combs says:
    July 27, 2012 at 6:25 am
    Then there is this: (dubious reporting origin) on Gates experiment with sulfur particulates in New Mexico: link backed up by this Groniad article…

    Gail, I think Sodahead may have added 2+2 and come up with 5.
    ___________________________
    Thanks Bill.

    I figured there might be a morsel of truth in the story but that it had gotten twisted (So what’s new?) that is why I labeled it dubious. WUWT is always good for saving hours trying to run down the actual story/background.

    If you have an open mind you can learn a lot here.

  65. So glad many have already jumped on the need for — and apparent lack of — environmental impact studies as required under NEPA. However, if memory serves correctly, a NEPA review is tied to specific projects, not such things as land “set asides.” It would be an interesting exercise to see if anyone could get a judicial review of NEPA’s requirements for federal land restrictions for particular uses (regardless of the intended purpose).

  66. Gail Combs says:
    July 27, 2012 at 11:29 am
    Thanks Bill.
    I figured there might be a morsel of truth in the story but that it had gotten twisted (So what’s new?) that is why I labeled it dubious.

    You’re welcome, Gail. It sounded familiar, so I knew there was something behind it. It’s also not a new idea (despite the press release’s wording), it’s a variation on an idea that popped up in the ’90s — IIRC, one yo-yo even proposed building a cannon with a mile-wide bore to get more particulates into the stratosphere faster.

    No way anything could go wrong with that, right?

  67. Comparing a conventional plant’s capacity with that of a solar PV field is comparing apples and oranges. That 40,000 MW figure is during the noon hour. Since solar irradiation in those deserts probably averages 7 “suns”per day (summertime), the output of the solar field will be (roughly) 40,000 times 7 or 280,000 MWhrs per day. However, a nuclear plant operates usually above 90% capacity. 40,000 MWs of nuclear power (roughly 25 reactors of current generation types)
    typically produces 40,000 X 24 X .90, or 864,000 MWhrs per day. The cost of reactors vary, but they also typically last 60 years or more. A solar thin film filed probably 20 years at most and is reduced to roughly 80% output by then. Costs vary but last week a European country signed to build 2 reactors for a total of $10 billion.
    Realize that “capacity” can be very misleading. A solar array can be visualized as operating at
    peak power around 7 hours per day, or at a 30% capacity in normal terms.
    Solar power is uncontrollable power and pollutes a grid. It requires backup, MW for MW by
    controllable generation capacity. Thus , regardless of how much, one can never shutter a single conventional plant – they must remain operational, with all the costs that entails, The only real savings one realizes is in the fuel that they don’t use because of the solar power. But fuel in a nuclear plant, for example, only accounts for around 10% of its total operating costs. Economically, solar makes no sense. Environmentally, a recent reading of 30 studies from universities, govts and private sources as to the emissions produced by each power source,
    found solar PV generating twice as much as nuclear per GWhr of power produced, and nearly half as much as natural gas. Nuclear plants have the lowest operating costs of all types, becoming cheaper than coal in 1999 and now 30% cheaper. Generation 4 plants, (fast reactors) can burn our nuclear “wastes.” They are inherently safe (can never experience a meltdown)
    and calculation show that there is enough energy remaining in our nuclear wastes to provide all of the energy this country needs for the next 1000 years. France is replacing all their reactors over the next 34 years, and half will be fast reactors, generation 4.

  68. Kent Beuchert says:
    July 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Comparing a conventional plant’s capacity with that of a solar PV field is comparing apples and oranges….
    ________________________
    Kent, how about expanding that into a post (with references)

  69. I’m from Portugal and the criminal actions of past and present governments about renewal energy (we are ‘ahead’ of the others countries of EU following directives from Bruxels), transformed us in PIGS. And we pay high, very high for electricity.

  70. @ Gail Combs says:
    July 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm “comparing apples and oranges….”
    True, but; it’s all still fruit.

    “Kent, how about expanding that into a post (with references)”, I concur, if it’s not too much work. Excellent comment, right on point!

  71. As the new unit of climate change is the “Manhattan”. , I am afraid I cannot grasp this “million homes” unit. Could one of you translate the “7 million homes” into “Manhattans” for me.
    Yours, in eager anticipation…

  72. Kent Beuchert says:
    July 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Comparing a conventional plant’s capacity with that of a solar PV field is comparing apples and oranges. That 40,000 MW figure is during the noon hour. Since solar irradiation in those deserts probably averages 7 “suns”per day (summertime), the output of the solar field will be (roughly) 40,000 times 7 or 280,000 MWhrs per day….
    ________________________________
    HUH? “averages 7 “suns”per day” where ever did you get that???

    There are tables for calculating all that, just like there are engineering tables for calculating roof slope and snow load or the pole depth for varying soil type and spacing.

    Here is one article on the subject: link
    and a table is available through this company link

    I also suggest you read ENERGY AOL

    Solar panels do not work that well. Often far below expectations.

    And few know it. Not the owners who depend on power. Not the bankers who finance it. Not the brokers who insure it.

    And not the government agencies who subsidize it.

    There I said it: The nasty little secret of the solar business. And I said it right at a time when we who believe in solar are under public scrutiny like never before.

    But if we who love solar and alternative energy do not put our house in order, those who believe solar is some kind of government-funded shell-game will do it for us. This would be a disaster for our country.

    So let’s talk…..

    And guess what? The secret is out that the numbers are hyped and we are being sold a bill of goods by the con artists in the solar business for a fast buck.

  73. @Kent Beuchert,

    40,000 MW is the maximum installed capacity if every square inch of the 285,000 acres was covered with solar arrays.  The maximun output under any conditions would be 40,000 MW.  Under ideal conditions 40,000 Mw could dleiver 40,000 MWhr per hour.  The average capacity factor for solar PV is 20-24%.  Even if the 285,000-acre array could average a capacity factor of 35%, the daily output would only be 336,000 MWhr per day.

    285,000 acres of natural gas-fired power plants have more than 10 times the daily output at nearly 37 million MWhr per day.

  74. Let us not forget that every watt of solar capacity has to be backed up by a watt of NG, or other 24/7 capacity, because it absolutely predictable that the solar output will be 0 for half of the year and will be less than 100% for another quarter of the year. The backup capacity cannot be run flat out, so it will have a higher capital cost than base capacity. You would actually be far better off if you never built the solar.

  75. One county over from me, Indiana Co, Pa, has three coal fired steam plants generating 6 gw, covering probably a few hundred acres total. They consume coal, but have been doing it since the 1960’s.

  76. Solar and wind have some major problems (for now): intermittent or variable output, cost. But I don’t see that land use is one them, at least not in comparison to some traditional forms of power.

    The comparison to covering the federal bad lands with traditional natural gas fired boiler plants instead was to poke fun, but it is also impossible with the resources available there. The boiler fired plants of the world require *water*, and a lot of it. Solar PV does not. Those several hundred thousand acres in the western US high plains do not all have ready access to lakes and rivers. Sometimes plants use man made lakes. The nuclear plant in the middle of my state is well run and safe, but it also had a lake built in the 70’s dedicated to cooling the plant, drowning 53 sq km. And I still have not touched on the mining / drilling land required, the rail right of ways for mile long trains, the ash and sludge from coal plants, etc.

    As for the cost, unlike solar PV all those theoretical gas plants will still be pulling BTUs through a pipe 25 years from now, and that gas is not going to be $3/mmbtu any more.

    Also, if the some of this land becomes somehow that irreplaceable, then rooftops and other already-used spaces will do. Here’s the largest roof array in the US, 9 MW over 25 acres, on top of a chiller warehouse in NJ.

    http://goo.gl/maps/T9FmM

    One might try, but I doubt that roof could be covered with gas power plants.

  77. Falstaff says:
    July 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm
    Solar and wind have some major problems (for now): intermittent or variable output, cost. But I don’t see that land use is one them, at least not in comparison to some traditional forms of power…One might try, but I doubt that roof could be covered with gas power plants.

    You wouldn’t have to cover the roof with gas plants — just install a single 9mW one in a corner.

    The advantages — you’d only have to reinforce the roof in one corner, rather than the entire roof; you’d have access to the plant’s full 9mW 24/7 rather than just 20-25% for three hours (max — it’s *Camden*, the Overcast Capitol of NJ) a day; you’d save on maintenance overtime by not sending a crew up once a week to clean particulates and bird droppings (seagulls love the Camden waterfront); and your ‘lectric power won’t be interrupted during snow events. Camden’s winter temps are buffered somewhat by Philly’s UHI presence, but it *does* get snow in the winter — *wet* snow, so you can’t just whisk it off with a horsehair broom.

  78. @Falstaff,

    Yes, the covering of “every square inch” with both types of power plants was a bit of sarcasm.  However, the power densities are simple calculations.  Natural gas plants deliver about 6 MW/ac and solar PV plants deliver about 0.15 MW/ac.

    As far as gas prices go… I find the oil & gas for a living… Been doing that for more than 30 years.  I learned a long time ago that price predictions, beyond inflation estimates, were little more than guesses.

    While wellhead natural gas prices are unlikely to remain as low as they are forever… Many shale plays are subeconomic at $7/mcf gas producers will drill and produce as much gas as they can and LNG exports won’t be significant for decades, if ever.  Most of the LNG market is in Asia, LNG tankers are too big for the Panama canal and there are no LNG terminals on the west coast (and unlikely to be any due to rampant mental greent@#dation in CA, OR & WA).

    US LNG Terminals

    All of the LNG terminals were built to import LNG, except Kenai AK.  Kenai exports Cook Inlet gas to Japan.   Prior to the shale boom we were consuming more gas than domestic production could provide.  Only one LNG terminal in Louisiana has been approved for conversion to an export facility.

    There will be more *proved* reserves of natural gas in the ground 30 years from now… A lot more.  The resource potential will also be much greater.

    Proved natural gas reserves in the US have grown by more than 50% since the shale gas boom took off in the late 1990’s.  These are proved reserves…

    US Natural Gas Proved Reserves

    The proved reserves have actually grown as US natural gas production has increased…

    US Natural Gas Production

    Even at $10/mcf, the levellized 30-yr cost of natural gas-fired electricity is only 11-12 cents/kWh. Solar PV is ~21 cents/kWh. Plus, almost all of the cost of solar is up front. It not only costs more; but you have to pay for it years before you use it. Almost all of the cost of gas-fired generation is incurred as the power is generated. Apply a standard discount rate to the solar CapEx and the economics fail even worse.

    Cold winters, hurricanes, economic booms and other unusual events may trigger short term price spikes, but the only way that US natural gas prices are likely to rise to the point of making solar competetive would be through regulatory malfeasance regarding fracking. And this will likely be the case for at least the next 20-30 years.

  79. Correction…

    Many shale plays are subeconomic at less than $5-6/mcf.  July 2018 Henry Hub gas futures are only in the $4.20-$4.70 range.  The average annual price paid by power plants will likely be less than $10/mcf for a long time to come because they hedge their purchases in advance, at$7/mcf gas producers will drill and produce as much gas as they can and LNG exports won’t be significant for decades, if ever. 

  80. @D. Middleton

    Yes, the covering of “every square inch” with both types of power plants was a bit of sarcasm. However, the power densities are simple calculations. Natural gas plants deliver about 6 MW/ac and solar PV plants deliver about 0.15 MW/ac.

    Yes that’s the *plant* area requirement, but again as per my original post: 1) in some cases such as this warehouse the area is effectively free, an already sunk cost by the owner so its irrelevant, and 2) the gas/coal/nuclear plant has other requirements besides the plant – fuel drilling/mining, fuel transportation via rail/pipelines, large waste area storage in the case of coal ash, and water access (sometimes quite large like North Anna’s 53 sq km lake), where as solar PV requires none of these. Solar has some very difficult problems to overcome via intermittent supply and cost, but this uses-too-much-land criticism is a red herring in my view. I want to see the land use critics out carrying signs in the corn-ethanol fields (35 *million* acres in the US) or on golf courses in the Arizona desert before I take them seriously.

    Even at $10/mcf, the levellized 30-yr cost of natural gas-fired electricity is only 11-12 cents/kWh. Solar PV is ~21 cents/kWh.

    Well solar PV is more expensive than that in cloudy areas, and in sunny areas for industrial projects the 2012 price is under 16 cents / kWh. The important point however is that solar PV LCOE has been falling at 15% per year and that is bound to continue for some time. The price of gas will no doubt continue to see some ups and downs, but over the long term it is only going to continue rising, as it has done historically.

    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9190us3a.htm

    In the case of this NJ warehouse, NJ can’t be bothered apparently to build much more in the way of new centralized electric generation, is letting the license on its nuclear plant lapse, so the warehouse owner can reasonably expect the price of electricity in NJ (already an expensive 14 c/kWh) to increase substantially over the life of that facility.

  81. @Bill Tuff
    You wouldn’t have to cover the roof with gas plants — just install a single 9mW one in a corner.

    Just? And just install a 100,000 cf/hour gas connection (i.e. 30 megajoule/sec), and just permit the emissions.

    you’d have access to the plant’s full 9mW 24/7 rather than just 20-25% for three hours (max —

    Note this a chiller warehouse, a very good application for solar PV. The large majority of the power is needed in the summer during the day.

    it’s *Camden*, the Overcast Capitol of NJ) a day;

    In the winter maybe, when they don’t need much power. Otherwise the Philly – Camden area receives a June average of 6 kWh/m^2/day of solar radiation (not electric output) per NREL, about the same as Phoenix in the Spring and Fall.

    you’d save on maintenance overtime by not sending a crew up once a week to clean particulates and bird droppings (seagulls love the Camden waterfront);

    It also rains in Camden-Philly.

  82. Falstaff says:
    July 31, 2012 at 11:21 am
    …NJ can’t be bothered apparently to build much more in the way of new centralized electric generation, is letting the license on its nuclear plant lapse…

    Where’d you hear that? NJ doesn’t have *a* nuke plant — it has four, and none of them are letting their permits lapse. The site in Toms River (aka Oyster Creek) is scheduled to run until it’s deactivated in seven years and the three in Salem all renewed their 10-year permits last year.

    It’s not that NJ “can’t be bothered” to build new electrical plants. Back in the ’90s, the greenheads (Jersey residents will understand the reference) pushed to have any new power station use co-generation technology — combustible refuse dried in natural gas ovens and then burned to heat steam boilers — all very eco-friendly, and they work.

    Then they mounted NIMBY campaigns all over the state to prevent any of them from being built.

  83. Laurie Bowen says:
    July 31, 2012 at 11:45 am
    Meanwhile, back on the farm . . .

    Wow. Looks like the cost of solar isn’t gonna go down anytime in the near future.

    Falstaff says:
    July 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm
    @Bill Tuff
    [okay, that’s one nobody else has come up with before!]
    Just? And just install a 100,000 cf/hour gas connection (i.e. 30 megajoule/sec), and just permit the emissions.

    Odd — your sole concern originally was just the impracticality of covering the roof with gas plants.

    Note this a chiller warehouse, a very good application for solar PV. The large majority of the power is needed in the summer during the day.

    Note that chiller plants have to be maintained at a constant temperature year-round. In the winter time, the power’s needed to *warm* the bays slightly keep the produce from freezing.

    In the winter maybe, when they don’t need much power. Otherwise the Philly – Camden area receives a June average of 6 kWh/m^2/day of solar radiation (not electric output) per NREL, about the same as Phoenix in the Spring and Fall.

    They *do* need the power in the winter. And you evidently don’t do much flying over the Philly/Camden area – there’s a thin haze layer that forms periodically in spring and fall that looks clear when you’re looking up, but produces a “milk bottle effect” when you’re looking down from above. It scatters the light.

    It also rains in Camden-Philly.

    And the Delaware is tidal all the way to Trenton. I used to do high-rise window-washing in Philly and Camden – I had to use a 1:5 solution of sudsy ammonia and a wallpaper scraper to get salt encrustations off the windows along the waterfront. All rain did was make interesting patterns in the particulates.

  84. @Bill Tuttle:
    Note that chiller plants have to be maintained at a constant temperature year-round. In the winter time, the power’s needed to *warm* the bays slightly keep the produce from freezing.

    They *do* need the power in the winter

    Nobody said no power was needed in the winter. The vast majority of the *electric* power for a chiller warehouse is used in the summer, during the day. And if this one is like most I’ve worked, they use gas heat in the winter not electric.

    …over the Philly/Camden area – there’s a thin haze layer that forms periodically … produces a “milk bottle effect” when you’re looking down from above. It scatters the light.

    … I had to use a 1:5 solution of sudsy ammonia and a wallpaper scraper to get salt encrustations off the windows along the waterfront. All rain did was make interesting patterns in the particulates.

    . The numbers are what they are – 6 kWh/m^2/day solar radiation in Philadelphia (June) – *measured* over decades – not predicted from some model.

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/pubs/redbook/PDFs/PA.PDF

    And as everyone can see here, at least on occasion, all the way from above the atmosphere that roof gets some none-hazy sun.

    http://goo.gl/maps/EAgXr

  85. @Bill Tuttle:

    Where’d you hear that? NJ doesn’t have *a* nuke plant — it has four,

    Sorry for the sloppy *a*. NJ has three nuke plants (four total reactors) Salem (2), Oyster (1), and Hope (1).

    and none of them are letting their permits lapse….

    Yes that’s exactly what’s happening at Oyster, the owners are closing the plant early. The plant is certified until 2029 by the NRC, *at least*, but it is closing in seven years mainly over a squabble forced by NJ officials that want the plant to use evaporative cooling towers instead all water cooling from the local bay (another reminder of the cooling requirements of heat engines). The Gloucester Marine Terminal warehouse will still need power competitive with Pennsylvania power across the river come the Oyster shut down, and New Jersey electric rates are already comparatively high. This solar array allows them to be immune to what decisions the NJ NIMBY’s may or may not do in the future.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2013630128_apusoystercreekearlyclosing.html

    It’s not that NJ “can’t be bothered” to build new electrical plants. …Then they mounted NIMBY campaigns all over the state to prevent any of them from being built.

    NIMBY’s are what I have in mind when I say can’t be bothered. Every state has NIMBY’s, but many states have elected leadership that don’t cave into them.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/07/largest-rooftop-solar-power-plant-in-north-america-formally-completed/

  86. Falstaff says:
    July 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    The numbers are what they are – 6 kWh/m^2/day solar radiation in Philadelphia (June) – *measured* over decades…

    With a +/- 11% uncertainty level.

    From the link: “Riverside will generate the equivalent of up to 80 percent of the Terminal’s power demand.”

    I wish them luck with the array, but I hope they’re not expecting it to be that efficient.

  87. Falstaff says:
    July 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm
    @ me: “and none of them are letting their permits lapse….”
    Yes that’s exactly what’s happening at Oyster, the owners are closing the plant early.

    Nope, they already *renewed* their permit, so they didn’t let their permit lapse, the greenheads made it economically unfeasible for OC to continue operating until 2029. A better way of phrasing your original sentence would be “NJ…appears unconcerned that one of its nuke plants is closing 10 years early” or “NJ’s legislature will be forcing 25% of the state’s nuke generation capacity offline by 2019.”

    Most of NJ’s NIMBY-organizers seem to have Princeton connections — not that I’m equating correlation with causality, y’unnerstand…

  88. @Bill Tuttle:
    Nope, they already *renewed* their permit, so they didn’t let their permit lapse, the greenheads made it economically unfeasible for OC to continue operating until 2029. A better way of phrasing your original sentence would be “NJ…appears unconcerned that one of its nuke plants is closing 10 years early” or “NJ’s legislature will be forcing 25% of the state’s nuke generation capacity offline by 2019.”

    Fair enough, agreed.

  89. @Bill Tuttle:
    From the link: “Riverside will generate the equivalent of up to 80 percent of the Terminal’s power demand.”

    I wish them luck with the array, but I hope they’re not expecting it to be that efficient.

    That is a load share metric, not efficiency. So with a 9 MWe PV array on the roof we might guess the peak lighting/HVAC/etc load of the warehouse is ~11 MWe.

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