California hoses its energy future – again

According to the New York Times, a major solar power project in California has been canceled. It seems that even creating solar power in the middle of nowhere in a desert can’t get past California environmentalists these days. If not here, where then on earth will be acceptable? Don’t hold your breath.

Ivanpah Solar Power Project - scrapped

Ivanpah Solar Power Project - scrapped

Excerpt:

BrightSource Energy Inc. had planned a 5,130-acre solar power farm in a remote part of the Mojave Desert, on land previously intended for conservation. The company, based in Oakland, Calif., said Thursday that it was instead seeking an alternative site for the project.

The Wildlands Conservancy, a California environmental group, had tried to block the solar development, as had Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, who proposed that the area become a national monument.

The land was donated by Wildlands to the Interior Department during the Clinton administration, with assurances from President Bill Clinton himself, the group says, that it would be protected in perpetuity. But the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a Bush administration initiative, opened the land to the development of solar projects.

Here’s the details on the project from the company website:

BrightSource is currently developing its first solar power complex in California’s Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will be located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, and about five miles from the California-Nevada border. The complex will be a 6-square mile facility (4065 acres) within the 25,000-square mile Mojave Desert and will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 450,000 tons per year.

Fast facts

* Location: Ivanpah, California

* Output: Up to 440 megawatts

* The Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will power 150,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 450,000 tons per year.

* The Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced today in the US.

* Ivanpah will create 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction.

Project details

The 440 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will be built in three phases – two 110 megawatt facilities and one 220 megawatt facility. The first phase (110 megawatts) is scheduled to begin construction in early 2010 and completed by 2012. The second phase will begin construction roughly six months after the start of the first phase in early 2010.

A 100 megawatt solar thermal plant utilizes approximately 50,000 heliostats.

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169 thoughts on “California hoses its energy future – again

  1. Very interesting – the other great hope for solar power, Ausra, who in early interviews claimed they could power the total US 24/7, have abandoned electricity production after building a 15MW plant and are currently selling solar steam generation.

  2. They call it good for the Earth, but just look at how much space that plant would’ve taken, space animals like bighorn sheep and condors need.
    Here’s an idea BrightSource, put more money into getting ultra efficient solar panels to market, then generate your power in the urban areas instead of covering the whole desert with mirrors and displacing plant and animal life.

  3. Just goes to show that there is a ulterior motive that is very difficutlt to regulate within green ideology. This ulterior ‘motive’ centres around control. If they cant accept alternative energy developments in the landscape that they don’t directly control, it shows the movement is not about bettering things for greater society, but about bettering things only for themselves.

  4. So sad. The Luz solar generation facility near Barstow is (or was, not sure it is still operating) amazing, although it was never cost-effective without special tax incentives. They used to sponsor a science program at the Lewis Center for Education Research. I’d love to see something like this take hold in California.
    Unfortunately, the anti-technology, anti-civilization faction is very powerful in this state, especially in the northern part. I think Southern Cal would seek to split the state if we didn’t need your water. 😉

  5. In fairness, it does not seem unreasonable to expect that this facility be placed on non conservation land. Why would anyone ever give conservation land again to the US if a new administration arbitrarily abrogates prior commitments for so little?

  6. Adam from Kansas (19:54:12) :

    They call it good for the Earth, but just look at how much space that plant would’ve taken, space animals like bighorn sheep and condors need.
    Here’s an idea BrightSource, put more money into getting ultra efficient solar panels to market, then generate your power in the urban areas instead of covering the whole desert with mirrors and displacing plant and animal life.

    You aren’t likely to find such large animals in that part of the Mojave Desert. There is very little water The jackrabbits and coyotes would have rested underneath the shade. Smaller rodents (mostly nocturnal) wouldn’t care, either.
    In the 1980s and 1990s, a company called ARCOSolar tried to make photovoltaics efficient enough to be competitive with other energy generation methods. Using sunlight to produce steam just works better for large-scale projects. That said, I wish that California localities made it easier to get permits for installing solar cells on individual homes.

  7. Yeah, I’m gonna have to agree with demisch on this one. They owned the land; they gave away the land on the promise that it would be protected. That sounds like a no-brainer to me. I mean, come on … we’re talking 2.5 miles per side for the solar plant (if it’s a square facility). I think there are probably one or two other places it could be built. California isn’t exactly small.
    REPLY: size isn’t the issue, its the EIR – A

  8. Two things –
    Solar thermal power – as listed above – gobbles up lots of water.
    In case you weren’t aware, water is a rather precious commodity in the desert. Facilities such as these usually utilize groundwater wells which may – read “almost certainly” – deplete groundwater resources and lower water tables. One quick read of the history of the Ogallala Aquifer should tell you about the history of pumping groundwater.
    In addition, the desert may SEEM like a wasteland to city folk who don’t really give a crap about any environment that doesn’t have a Starbucks around the corner or a nice bluegrass lawn in suburbia, but desert environments are some of the most fragile of ecosystems. In addition to the threats to the rare natural springs that occur in deserts because of water withdrawals – roads, powerlines, and service areas must be constructed. Damage to thin topsoils and flora may take centuries to recover.
    Most folks here probably don’t care much for Mary Austin, Edward Abbey, and Wallace Stegner – but all have conveyed in their works the beauty and magic of the desert. Anyone who has allowed him or herself time in the desert – quiet time on foot and far away from all distraction – knows that the desert is hardly a wasteland.

  9. 9 sq. miles out of the most worthless 25,000 sq miles in the country.
    A couple of dozen rattlesnakes thank you.

  10. I have a better idea. How about the Black Rock desert playa? There is no habitat to destroy. NOTHING lives there, not even a blade of grass. It gets wet in the winter there, but that can be worked around.
    It is BLM land and should be available for that use for a reasonable, fee.

  11. Roger McEvilly (19:55:37) : This ulterior ‘motive’ centres around control. If they cant accept alternative energy developments in the landscape that they don’t directly control, it shows the movement is not about bettering things for greater society, but about bettering things only for themselves.
    Frankly, I think it is worse than that. I’ve known a fair number of rabid greens. It isn’t about a desire for explicit control, it is about achieving world perfection, as they see it.
    They think the world ought to be perfect; and that perfection does not allow for things like real farms (only toy farms as seen in 1950’s TV). Farms ought to have a red barn, horses pulling wagons, no motor driven equipment and no chemicals (i.e. be very Amish, but without the pig slaughter and bacon making… and without the beef… they would be against dairy cows but they don’t understand that dairy cows means someone is eating veal…) The world ought to all run on solar cars and windmills. But without mining any copper or making any plastics or refining any iron or… to make said solar panels and windmills) and all development ought to only happen on despoiled urban land (never mind that they also want the despoiled urban land returned to nature…) and everything ought to be the same price as now, or lower if you are poor.
    All food comes from the grocery store (preferably organic) and that does not need farms. All computers and cloths come from Macys or Saks and that does not require sweat shops or factories (or mining or other icky things). And a no-whip-lowfat-soy-latte does not require anyone in the tropics to pick coffee beans…
    Everyone can work from home, and bike to the grocery store.
    Mining is evil and ought to be banned.
    Coal and oil are evil and ought to be banned.
    Cars and trucks and trains are evil…
    And making clothes in 3rd world countries at less than US minimum wage is evil and ought to be banned.
    Everyone ought to be paid lots of money (“living wage”), and have all the food they want, free medical care, free education to any level, free clothing, and never need a car, and travel anywhere in the world using no fuel, and everyone ought to have a Masters or Ph.D. regardless of their native talent (it is racist and you must be a eugenics supporter to suggest that some folks are just not quite smart enough to earn a Ph.D …) and it will certainly not require anything using an engine or any chemicals of any kind or anyone to work in a factory making cloths or … It’s all about being self actualized, and how can anyone be self actualized in a cloths factory, anyway?…
    And that is the problem.
    Ask one of those folks where the stuff in the toilet goes when they flush. If they actually do have a clue about “sewer plants” ask them how it gets there… Ask them how the water gets into the faucet. Ask them what copper is used for, what materials go into a TV set (don’t bother with “how does it work”…) or even just ask “How do you grow food?” When they say “put seeds in the ground” ask about pest management, weed control, where do seeds come from, where do the parts we don’t eat go? Then ask “How does food get to you?” It is very very depressing…
    The connection between what they use every day and how it gets to them is typically nonexistent. Yeah, there is the occasional “green engineer” who has a bit of a clue, but they typically “have other issues”.
    Why do folks get sick? Because “your energies are out of balance”. Need medicines? Nope, just get your Chi adjusted right… Cat wants to eat the goldfish? Talk to him about his attitude…
    NONE of these is a fiction. ALL of them comes from an actual interaction at some point in my past. Part of why I bailed out of the Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth affiliations I had. I could not stand the cool-aid… (Kept asking “What’s in this? Where did it come from?” 😉
    So you see, it isn’t about need to control that land, it is more about the idea that we don’t really need that solar plant anyway. Just turn on the light switch and the lights come on. Why do you want to destroy that pristine desert when the switch works SOOO much better and cleaner…
    No smiley.
    No joke.
    Sad?
    yes

  12. Inxwalt (20:35:37),
    ” You aren’t likely to find such large animals in that part of the Mojave Desert. There is very little water The jackrabbits and coyotes would have rested underneath the shade. Smaller rodents (mostly nocturnal) wouldn’t care, either.”
    It would change the ecology, plants and animals would be more abundant,soil would be more moist. The dishes as you say would have provided shade and protection, there would be less evaporation from the soil leading to a richer more diverse plant community.The taller grass and shade from the dishes would provide protection for the animals from raptors, they would probably change their habits and be less nocturnal.Altogether the biota would be be more abundant but different and therein lies the problem for the ‘frozen in time’ environmentalists.
    There are technical problems, like how do the dishes get cleaned? and remoteness from the transmission grid.

  13. I don’t follow that. I may be dim.
    But a solar powered steam plant recycles it’s water, it does not need to vent steam.
    Beyond filling and the usual minor losses it shouldn’t need to use any water at all.
    So where is the water usage problem?
    Kindest Regards

  14. While the “greens” demand that we transition to renewable energy with their mouths, in clear action they stand opposed to its development. Sadly, most applications to build solar power plants on file with the BLM here in Nevada are mired in environmental wrangling. Because of it, some time back the BLM placed a two year moratorium on accepting any new applications. That decision was eventually overturned by the state. In response, environmental groups vowed to force years of studies against applicants, making the building of most plants unlikely.
    When you get past all of the debates over the harm solar plants will cause to the endangered desert tortoise, desert water usage issues, environmental hazards of salt spills, damage to cryptobiotic soils, stressing of desert flora, unsightliness, and the rest, there’s still one more bullet in the environmentalist’s renewable energy project killing guns…
    …Energy Sprawl:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006802#pone-0006802-g004
    Our present administration and the envirowackos overlook the “Tarzan principal.” You don’t let go of the vine that has carried you until you have the next vine firmly in grasp. They demand that industry let go of oil and natural gas under the fallacious belief that renewable energy is in our grasp. The outcome is quite predictable – it’s going to be a hard fall.

  15. Dear Mr. Smith –
    I live in rural Wyoming. Not only do I know the desert, I know people who drill wells for a lot of the natural gas that powers the California electric plants (since they don’t want any coal-generated electricity there) and people who raise the beef that goes into your steaks (probably not McBurgers since that stuff largely comes from cheaper foreign producers).
    I have a dear friend who is in her 80s who has shot a bear and a mountain lion in the past two years – because these critters made the mistake of coming after her chickens. So, I think I know a thing or two about where eggs come from.
    But, then again, why discuss ideas when ad hominem attacks are just so much more fun. eh?

  16. I’ve got a better idea than any of you, and it’s not even a new one. Give up on the pipe dream of solar power until we get some kind of direct conversion breakthrough – but that could take 2 or 3 decades. Till then, we’ve got more natural gas in this country than we can use – if we would just develop all the fields we have (Including the MASSIVE gas fields in Alaska that are sitting there unused since we’ve never built a pipeline for it) then we could have cheap electricity everywhere in this country for the next 50 years, easy.
    But noooo, that’s too easy, and it might benefit some of those nasty oil and gas companies. Can’t allow that.

  17. John Egan (20:42:14) :
    ….In addition to the threats to the rare natural springs that occur in deserts because of water withdrawals – roads, powerlines, and service areas must be constructed. Damage to thin topsoils and flora may take centuries to recover……blah blah blah. I’m sorry John, but this kind of thinking is precisely the problem. The topsoils, flora, etc are NOT ultra sensitive and irreplaceable. Ever hear of the Law of Entropy? In the desert, that topsoil is whatever blew in over the last few years. I can intentionally bulldoze every weed in my yard (and did when I built) and ALL of them were back in the space of a few years. It actually sounds to me like the conservancy has a claim if the land was theirs to begin with, but the eco zealot fixation on every blade of grass or puddle of mud will be the destruction of this great country.

  18. This reminds me of another example of the radicals in the Administration and Congress, etc that are totally oblivious that our economy is highly dependent on energy. They think energy from US sources is bad (while they loan money to Brazil to develop their resources).
    http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE5896UU20090910
    “Stephen Brown, a fellow at the nonpartisan research group Resources for the Future, said eliminating the tax breaks would amount to less than one percent of the industry’s $3.4 trillion in estimated annual revenue for the period.” (Of course these costs will be passed along to the consumer)
    “A small drop in U.S. oil consumption should help energy security, by cutting the exposure to oil price shocks, he said.” But the way they do it is to cut back US production!!
    This reflects the administration agenda to strangling US oil and gas production regardless of consequences and propose the false claim that this US will strengthen energy security. really?? Is there anyone in the world who believes this? Less domestic resources= increased security!! The Administration will lie about anything and concock any story to sell it no matter how wild !!
    http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE5896UU20090910

  19. a jones (21:07:13) :
    The problem, as cited by environmentalists, is in the water required to clean the reflectors. In a large plant, it is claimed the amount would be a significant drain on desert water resources.

  20. When are people going to wake up to the fact that environmentalists are liars? They’re not interested in ‘alternative’ energy sources. They’re interested in capping energy and therefore human growth and activity. They want to see the world turned back a few centuries to a time when the world population was a fraction of what it is today, with people ‘living off the land’, hard lives and early deaths for all. Their ideas are not driven by science or reason, but by the worship of Earth as an entity, a goddess. The American government which is not supposed to establish a religion is establishing the morality of the religion of Gaia.
    This is not the only solar project they’ve opposed in the American deserts. And while this one has a twist in that the land was donated for the express purpose of conservation, other such projects have been proposed on land free of such entanglements. They were still blocked by rabid greens.
    John Egan – I used to live in the Mojave. It’s massive, and massive tracts of it are already set aside for nature. How much land do we have to set aside? I’m all for having national parks and wilderness areas. But Gaia worshipers have abused the system as a means to blocking all human development. We need to set aside land for nature, and land for man. And on man’s land it doesn’t matter what gets paved or what topsoil is damaged. It only matters what benefits man.

  21. They are probably good for the environment as those 50,000 heliostats form dew in the morning which drips to the ground. Because the heliostats reflect the sun the surrounding ground receives less sun/heat so I’d expect the ground around the plant to blossom with plant life, that’s what happened under the solar tower exprimental unit..

  22. Hey, I know this is an extremely conservative website. The comments in many threads clearly show it. But there WAS a Republican president who is considered by many to be one of the founders of the conservation movement – Theodore Roosevelt.
    In his day, Roosevelt was considered a lunatic by financiers, businessmen, and others seeking to make their fortunes from the public domain. After all – it was just a wasteland, right? T.R. had seen, firsthand, the wanton destruction of the American Bison. He was aware of the irresponsible destruction of northern forests in the Great Lakes region. He saw the results of massive overfishing on salmon runs.
    For his time, T.R. was most certainly radical. The fact is – for most of the history of the United States, Americans have viewed the desert as a wasteland. A number of posters here have used such terminology. Rarely do we value anything until it is gone. In actuality, many of the Western desert environments are already utilized. Ever hear of Bonneville Salt Flats? Or the Nevada Test Site?
    As for water use – yes, facilities such as this use quite a lot of water – not in generation but in daily cleaning. Dust build-up reduces the solar efficiency of the mirrors. Cleaning with pressurized air risks scratching the mirrors; thus, cleaning with water is required. Most of this water is lost through evaporation or runoff.
    The automobile is not the most efficient form of transportation in terms of total energy used, cost, space, etc. – but it has proved more than adequate in providing transportation for Americans and others for multiple generations. (This guy can’t be a flako leftie if he just said that!!) Solar power generation can be accomplished effectively in dispersed locations that are already developed for other uses. Hell, you could build solar towers all along I-15 to Vegas and pay for the project with billboard advertising – although where the water will come from remains an issue.
    The rapid increases in efficiency of photovoltaics may actually make thermal solar obsolete in short order – think 8-track tape players. Sorry, the Owens Valley has already had its water stolen to fill swimming pools in Southern California. Half of the public lands in the Southwest are used for military training, tests, or disposal.
    This project is an Edsel.

  23. Hank,
    “Our present administration and the envirowackos overlook the “Tarzan principal.” You don’t let go of the vine that has carried you until you have the next vine firmly in grasp. They demand that industry let go of oil and natural gas under the fallacious belief that renewable energy is in our grasp. The outcome is quite predictable – it’s going to be a hard fall.”
    Well said.
    I have worked in the energy sector as an engineer for almost 50 yearse and the current policy is suicidal. Tons of taxpayers dollars are being pumped into alternative energy sources that don’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of providing viable cost efficient energy. The energy companies have been looking for the magic bullet (using the brightess and best engineers and scientists from the top universities) for decades without success. To think that a bunch of inept politicians and Government DOE employees wildly splashing around you tax dollars will provide a quick breakthrough is naive at best.

  24. John Egan (21:14:04) :
    Just where would you put the solar plant? I’m sure there was a reason why the Mojave was selected over other places.

  25. RE: John Egan (20:42:14)
    Edward Abbey, whom you reference, wrote books romanticizing Eco-terrorism. I don’t think this blog should be a forum for posters advocating Eco-terrorist authors (specific reference “Monkey Wrench Gang”).
    I happen to think that windmills, nuclear plants, dams, solar farms, etc. are as beautiful as any dry wasteland. The universe so far is filled with waste lands, so far only one planet has beautiful structures created by intelligent minds and so far we only cover a tiny fraction of this planet.
    The eco-systems that have grown up behind the Columbia river dams and all across the San Joaquin Valley are full of birds, mammals, fish where only sand some scrub trees existed before. I counted 14 species of birds from a friend’s yard in Moses Lake, WA > was that man-made Garden of Eden evil? The problem you eco-terrorists types have is you view man as evil and cannot see that some things human kind does are pretty awesome.
    All the best,

  26. Keith Minto (21:05:41) :
    Inxwalt (20:35:37),
    ” You aren’t likely to find such large animals in that part of the Mojave Desert. There is very little water The jackrabbits and coyotes would have rested underneath the shade. Smaller rodents (mostly nocturnal) wouldn’t care, either.”
    It would change the ecology, plants and animals would be more abundant,soil would be more moist. The dishes as you say would have provided shade and protection, there would be less evaporation from the soil leading to a richer more diverse plant community.The taller grass and shade from the dishes would provide protection for the animals from raptors, they would probably change their habits and be less nocturnal.Altogether the biota would be be more abundant but different and therein lies the problem for the ‘frozen in time’ environmentalists.
    ===
    The land under a solar glass mirror is sterile – or will be once the sunlight is turned off. And it should be: you don’t want any trees, bushes, vines or algae/moss growing across the upper surface.
    There’s an advantage to this site = The land is no sterile. Look at it: not even scrub or catus, no life at all. Which makes it about the only place in the US that IS alright to put a solar installation.
    Doesn’t matter. Without your tax dollar subsidies, there is no reason to build solar. It is a waste of time, moeny, resources, energy, and manpower. It is a waste of copper and glass to put thepower lines in to ship the elctricity out, the day-to-day driving into the site every shift to bring supervisors and technicians in EVERY DAY for teh enext fifty years to run the thing. To ship in pipes, plumbing, glass, rebar, steel, copper, concrete – how to you make the foundations without more water, cement, steel, digging equipment and people and power and energy and roads between the ten thousand acre facility…. The gas for their trucks and maintenance? )
    I can put a 65% efficient combined cycle power plant in 10 acres in the middle of the city – where power is needed NOW – and produce 500 MegWatt in two years. And not need a single extra power pole or road or pipeline.
    it’s just not politically popular right now – because the federal government wants to deny (electric) power to the people who need it, in favor of granting more (political) power to the people who want it.

  27. This makes a great case for more Coal & Nuclear Plants. If we can’t build alternative energy plants, then we’ll have to build conventional. Oops, can’t do that either.
    You heard the Conseratory and the Senator.
    No alternative energy is allowed.
    Ok, everyone, start unplugging the street lights, marker lights, lawn lights, security lights and whatever else you can. We need more power, and we cannot build it, so we’ll have to strip out everything. Your ration is one LED light/home.
    The Senator has spoken.
    So it is written, so it shall be done.
    REPLY: what, no obelisks? – A

  28. E.M. touched on this obliquely: one of the reasons the totally clueless environmentalists who oppose every thing that makes modern life possible is that someone might make ~gasp!~ a profit.
    (Ooooo! I had to slap myself for saying that dirty ‘P’ word. Sorry all. I hope your children aren’t reading this.)
    N.b. I’m not including the practical enviromentalists that do have a clue, as there are quite a few that post here.

  29. Robert E. Phelan (21:53:51) :
    John Egan (21:14:04) :
    “Just where would you put the solar plant? I’m sure there was a reason why the Mojave was selected over other places.”

    Dry desert air means less inbound solar energy is shielded by the humidity – on average.
    Low latitude means the sun is higher every day (on average) and so the net efficiency is slightly higher.
    Desert soil and no water means the soil is already sterile and so there is less competing biological impact. (You don’t need to clear cut 10,000 acres and keep it clear cut every spring, and you don’t need to cover 10,000 acres with asphalt under the collectors to prevent ground erosion from rain runoff. What? You want to keep mowing the grass around teh bottom of the 10,000 acres of solar collectors in FL or AL or Mississippi or TX, only to see the mud run off between them whe it does rain?)
    No hurricanes or tornadoes.
    Dust is bad – but can be managed by cleaning – as noted above.
    A higher elevation helps reduce atmospheric absorption of the solar energy, but the high deserts are more ecologically sensitive, and get covered with snow half the year. (Big oopsie to lose half your production to snow or storms – again, a major reason to build solar installations in the dry deserts.)
    Unfortunately, nobody lives in the deserts, and no power is consumed in the deserts. So, you also have to build expensive power lines across the deserts, each power line requiring additional roads and mountain transits and valley/cliff transits and “bridges” – very, very expensive installations. That cause up to 48% of the power to be lost rather quickly.
    Unless even more expensive high volt transformers are built at each each of the power lines – which requires even higher towers and more copper losses opver long distances and in the transformers. So, figure about 1/2 the opwer will lost to heat losses from resistance just crossing the desert 1000 miles to the next large load. (And, as line temperature goes up, heat losses increase even more.)
    Our existing generators out in the desert – such as at Hoover Dam? Their lines are already overloaded, and are subject to these same losses. You can’t add much to the existing power lines – even assuming they went in the right direction. Which they don’t.

  30. rbateman (22:29:51) :
    The Senator has spoken.
    So it is written, so it shall be done.
    REPLY: what, no obelisks? – A
    — Er, uhm, no. An obelisk cuts off the sunlight from your neighbor’s solar cells to the east, north, and west of your “property” and must be taken down.
    Unless there is a bird nest in the obelisk, in which case the bird has priority and your neighbors to the east, south and west must turn off all of their lights every night near the solstices so the migrating birds don’t get distracted and can’t navigate home ……

    REPLY:
    “So it is written, so shall it be done” was spoken by Yul Brenner playing Ramses II in Cecil b. De Mille’s epic film The Ten Commandments (1956) which also starred Charlton Heston as Moses. Another great line was from ruler Sethi, played by Cedric Hardwicke who said (with a slight English accent): “Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and tablet, stricken from all pylons and obelisks, stricken from every monument of Egypt.”
    That’s what I was referring to. – Anthony

  31. Doh! Obelisks.
    Stonecutting, the new Green Jobs.
    Followed by a Great Pyramid at Sacramento.
    I have always said that Sac needs a mountain.
    The Limestone Quarry at Auburn, perfect.
    The Granite comes from Rocklin and Penryn.

  32. Has Feinstein done anything good or productive as a Senator? I can’t remember hearing about one good thing “Senator” Feinstein has done. This woman shouldn’t be a Senator. Californians gotta vote that useless woman out of office.

  33. John Egan (21:43:13) :
    OK, you answered the question before it got posted. I’ll support the towers along I-15, but I’ll make a small wager (preferably in Lucia’s Quatloos, all I can really afford and I can print them at home) that THAT location will also prove environmentally unacceptable and that no technology will be green enough.

  34. Hmm, I was asked during 1989 by Rio Tinto staff at the Argyle diamond mine to do a back of envelope calculation to work out how many solar panels would be needed to supply 15Mw electrical power. It had to be 15Mw 24/365 so that meant battery storage for night time to keep the mill working.
    The reason for the request was the Wilderness Society’s demand Rio deploy solar energy for its expected power requirements.
    My rough calculations included the need to find another copper mine, lead mine, and a couple of sq km for the solar arrays. Not to forget the copper buss bars and cabling to get the DC current to the mine.
    That experiment tipped into the anti-greenie mode.

  35. “Hell, you could build solar towers all along I-15 to Vegas and pay for the project with billboard advertising – although where the water will come from remains an issue.
    The rapid increases in efficiency of photovoltaics may actually make thermal solar obsolete in short order – think 8-track tape players. ” – John Egan (21:43:13)
    While I think solar PV’s have a bright future in small niche applications, I see quite a few problems with solar PV’s playing much of a role in supplying the grid within the next few decades.
    While solar PV cells achieving 40% conversion efficiency can be manufactured in very small quantities, the cost is astronomical and the cells degrade in performance over time. Solar PV’s achieving any acceptable conversion efficiency are made of toxic substances (including silicon and other doping chemicals). Several small towns in China have been rendered polluted waste lands from the manufacturing of solar panels.
    Another major issue is the erection of said towers. The cost would be prohibitive. Given the public distaste for cellular towers and the like, it is unlikely any plan to build a string of solar towers along public highways will be acceptable. Then, as you well point out, there’s the water issue.
    Finally, solar PV’s provide no practical means to store power, particularly in the desert, limiting them to small applications where batteries are employed. Batteries are impractical, expensive, and present their own environmental issues. The only solution to the intermittent and poor demand response of solar PV’s is to build CO2 spewing “spinning reserves” of equal capacity to the solar PV array.
    I personally think that solar trough or tower turbine plants offer a much better, although limited, option in the renewable energy future as there are viable means to store the heat to provide some demand regulation and run the turbines for several hours after sunset.

  36. It isn’t about the environment, it’s about hatred of your average everyday working human critters by the over educated elite.
    Which is fine with me, because I welcome the day when California runs out of power and there’s rolling blackouts, and electricity costs close to your monthly rent. Because after years of putting up with the gerrymandered tax and spend morons in charge of the government here, I’ll be retired in another state laughing my ass off.

  37. Pofarmer (21:49:45) :
    It takes 4000 acres to produce 440 megawatts?

    The Cordova nuke plant in Illinois produces 1,700 megawatts on 765 acres, and some of that acreage is in corn.

  38. My wife has occasionally conned me into watching “Living with Ed”, the cable program about Ed Begley Jr.’s domestic problems trying to live a maximally green lifestyle. On one of those he discussed how he must routinely climb to the roof to clean his solar arrays to maintain their efficiency. How do large PV installations deal with this, or if they don’t, what kind of efficiency losses do they experience from dirty panels? If the losses are significant that would seem quite problematic in a desert environment.

  39. a jones,
    The issue is not just water for cleaning the reflectors – though that is an issue with both solar thermal and photovoltaics (dirt reduces efficiency) – but the cooling water needed to condense the steam across the turbine, which is what makes it spin and enables electricity to be produced. If water is scarce, cooling towers are needed, which introduces extra cost. If water is really scarce, rather than natural draft cooling towers (closed system) mechanical cooling towers can be used, but they are even more expensive, but reduce efficiency because electricity is consumed in turning the mechanical fans.
    The real issue this case shows is that land is a major input in solar energy. If you work out the maximum available incoming solar radiation (solar constant ~1375W/m2 divided by approx 4 to take account of the fact we’re on a rotation sphere) at 15% efficiency for PV you get around 50W/m2. Let’s say we can get to 25% efficiency – about 84W/m2. Now scale up to a MW huge areas. Since land actually has a price, its not just the sun that makes desert attractive, but the close to zero opportunity cost of land – except as wilderness, which is where the conservationists come it.

  40. Sorta OT, but inline with EM’s points.
    Once upon a time I had a carnivorous girl friend who took exception to me shooting deer to eat. I asked her if she thought her steaks grew in celophane. All she could say was that that was not the point. I was “ambushing” the poor deer.
    I asked her if she’d ever visited a slaughter house. That caused some squirming. She wasn’t about to give up meat, but also didn’t want to know about the process of getting it to her plate. That was bloody inconvenient (pun intended). And yet, she considered herself and “animal rights” person and evironmentalist. Go figure. Logical consistency ain’t a hallmark of the “evironmentalist” crowd.
    Nuff said. She didn’t stay my girl friend.
    Now days my wife may not want to pull the trigger, but she’s pretty handy with the butchering after I pull the trigger and has no qualms understanding the process of getting meat to the table.

  41. Everything EM Smith said is true. However, we do not need a solar monstrosity on the Mojave. Wait until solar is available in urban areas; use some of the loose cash around to do intense R&D. Also deep six those stupid wind turbines — including all the damage they do to land, birds, and the humans they are built around. The U.S. and California has enough sources of energy we do not need these insane projects. They remind me of the worst of “modernist” grandiosity. In this one case, I do not object to environmnental nuttiness. Even a blind chick gets some corn.

  42. The can say the same about windmils in the oceans and on land. Solar power is way less harmfull than windwils for animals.

  43. Mike McMillan (23:39:09) :
    Pofarmer (21:49:45) :
    It takes 4000 acres to produce 440 megawatts?
    The Cordova nuke plant in Illinois produces 1,700 megawatts on 765 acres, and some of that acreage is in corn.

    And the LaSalle County Nuclear Station near Ottawa, Illinois produces 2,280 megawatts (enough to supply over 2 million homes). It uses a manmade cooling lake that takes up 2,058 acres, but which has become a popular fishery and wildlife habitat. The station employs over 800 people.
    In summary: .11 megawatt/solar acre vs about 1 megawatt/nuclear acre (lake plus the reactor facilities). Cordova produces 2.2 megawatts/nuclear acre.
    I wonder which technology is more efficient per acre? How much more asthetically pleasing is a lake vs solar array? AND I can fish and boat in the lake!

  44. Until we get the problem of fussion power generaton cracked, it looks like fission power plants are the only real alternative to fossil fuels.
    However, more money needs to be pumped into the problem of getting rid of the radoactive waste these plants produce in a ‘future safe’ way before I would support this strategy.

  45. What will those ecominded celebs in California do when the lights go out and they won’t have energy to power their industry?

  46. I suppose Ancient civilizations were equally non-green as they built massive cities out of stone and whatever else they could find. How dare the Romans alter Europe’s natural beauty with vias and aquaducts.
    I keep going back to that story a few years ago about S. Africa’s rolling blackouts. They too quit building power generation until thier region overreached in distribution and ended up with rolling blackouts on a permanent basis.
    I would like to know what the statistics are on traffic safety, as when the power is on, the cities are all lit up, but when the power is off, nothing stops.

  47. What a staggering amount of space needed to generate, part-time, so little electrical energy. And what was the price of this energy to be, per kWh? Of course, the output is zero kWh once the sun starts to set.
    Surely modern, compact nuclear plants, working 24/7, are the way to go. From what I read, California needs cheap energy, and does not want to tread the path of Spain and end up with 18% unemployment as industry flees the “green” power costs.

  48. John Egan (21:43:13) :
    [i]Hey, I know this is an extremely conservative website. The comments in many threads clearly show it.[/i]
    Thinking realistic is maybe thinking conservative. Especially when it comes to the topic “energy-production”
    [Note: square brackets don’t work with WordPress. Use arrow brackets instead: < >. ~dbs, mod.]

  49. Sorry for a little OT comment:
    “Ivanpah will create 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction”
    No. It will not. It will “employ” 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction. Jobs will not be created out of nowhere. People that could be doing other things will be, instead, constructing the plant.

  50. rbateman (22:48:20) :
    Doh! Obelisks.
    Stonecutting, the new Green Jobs.
    Followed by a Great Pyramid at Sacramento
    I think a really big Sphinxter makes more sense.

  51. I was a motorcyclists in the early ‘70s. There was an article in one of the dirt bike magazines about the effect of motorcycles crossing the ‘pristine’ desert. It seems that up until the dirt bike craze of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, rain in the desert would collect in pools on the surface and evaporate quickly. The motorcycles would break the top crust and allow the rain water to seep into the ground rather than evaporate. The resulting explosion of vegetation interfered with riding the dirt bikes.
    The construction of solar facilities in the desert may have the opposite effect on the region’s water supply than predicted. This, of course, would be equally objectionable to the environmentalists.

  52. This may be hiding another agenda. I’ve heard about how projects like this are tied up in red tape and obstruction because some alternative energy developers want to use non-union labor to reduce cost in building the project. The unions have tried blackmailing these projects, saying that they’ll make sure the project is greenlighted by regulators if the developers use union labor. If not, the unions use every regulatory lever they can get ahold of to make life hard on these developers so that the project can’t go forward.

  53. I’ll make some comments:
    1. This is not a “very conservative” blog. I am a classical liberal and I don’t find it that conservative. It is a blog that talks about things which are currently very sensitive for Democrats but frankly when GW Bush was in charge it had lots of inconvenient truths about Republican political beliefs as well. There are some vociferous conservative commenters but that’s about it (and the conservatives hardly get away with spouting a party line before they get called on it)
    2. This blog is about the reality of climate science and the reality of science. Therefore nobody should feel comfortable regardless of their political viewpoint. If you don’t feel your basic belief system being challenged then you’re not reading the same blog as me.
    3. The green eco-alarmist panic over climate is collapsing in on itself. But its not going to go quietly, has massive financial reserves and it still has great sway over people’s lives through the political system of many countries.

  54. Senator Lamar Alexander has an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on this topic.
    “This “sprawl” has been missing from our energy discussions.”

    “The 1,000 square-mile solar project proposed by [secretary of the interior] Salazar would generate, on a continuous basis, 35,000 megawatts of electricity. You could get the same output from 30 new nuclear reactors that would fit comfortably onto existing nuclear sites.”

    “Renewable energy is not a free lunch. It is an unprecedented assault on the American landscape.”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574404762971139026.html?mod=rss_opinion_main

  55. BrightSource conversation with grid operator:
    BS. We have this great new energy source, we can sell you 300mw of cheap energy between 9am and 5pm.
    Grid. But peak demand for electricity is a 7pm.
    BS. Ummmm…
    .

  56. >>>I asked her if she’d ever visited a slaughter house.
    >>>That caused some squirming. She wasn’t about to give
    >>>up meat, but also didn’t want to know about the process
    >>>of getting it to her plate.
    And then the Green movement approve of Halal meat, where the animal just gets its throat cut, because we cannot offend another culture by showing any form of judgement or disapproval.
    I remember two Americans (had to be Americans) walking by the Nile and commenting that it was so lovely that the Luxor authorities had provided ‘public showers’ along the banks of the river. Then they came to the next ‘shower cubicle’, where a live goat was kicking and bleating while having its head cut off.
    Enlightenment was followed by much human screaming and hollering, ‘Abe, Abe, they are killing a goat’.
    Perhaps we should create public slaughterhouses too.
    .
    .

  57. I’ve found this comment and share it with you.
    Although the subject is off topic, the conclusion of this comment ties up very well with the current madness exhibited by the Environmental Movement and our political establishment.
    http://petesplace-peter.blogspot.com/2009/05/coming-ice-age.html
    Posted by: sentient May 14
    We live today in the Holocene epoch, the past 11,500 years since we melted our way out of the Wisconsin ice age. All, and this needs repeating, ALL of human civilization has occurred during THIS interglacial. Only cave paintings are available beyond 10k years ago. It is called the Wisconsin ice age for the simple reason that this is where the terminal moraines are found for the miles thick ice sheets that covered the northern hemisphere. Stepping back the previous three are termed the Illinoisan, Kansan and Nebraskan. Think about that for a moment. Miles thick ice sheets extending as far south as Kansas.
    According to the National Research Council (Abrupt Climate Change -Inevitable Surprises, 2002), half of the melting that brought us out of the Wisconsin ice age occurred in less than a decade. And that does not include Dansgaard-Oeschger events which have an average period of 1,500 years, the same sawtooth shape as the major ice age events (abrupt and dramatic warming, then a bumpy ride into the deep ice age freeze), and an average near instantaneous warming of 8-10C with outliers up to 16C (about 60F). So if you are concerned about the maximum IPCC predicted rise of 2C in a century (this one), then our signal will be hard to pick out from the natural background noise of natural climate change, which reliably can result in those 8-16C jumps in from a few years to less than a decade. Interestingly, in all typical proxy records (ice cores, tree-ring cores, ostracod shells in deep sea cores, pollen studies etc.) temperature rises and from centuries to millenia later CO2 rises, temperatures fall, and the then much later CO2 levels fall.
    So temperature drives GHGs, not the other way around for as far back as we can see it, and the Greenland cores see it particularly well back to the Eemian, the interglacial which preceded this one, the Holocene. Now, if you are concerned about sea level rise, then the 0.6 meter rise in sea levels by 2100 is obviously significant. But how significant? About 7000-6000 years ago, during the Holocene Climate Optimum, sea levels topped out only a mere 6 meters above present, ten times higher than what is considered a credible prediction. How about during the Eemian, the interglacial which preceded this one and the one in which Homo sapiens debuts in the fossil record? sea level highstands reached only slightly higher than today, a paltry 20 meters (52 meters have been reported for locations in Siberia).
    And what does it take to make a miles thick ice sheet? Surprisingly enough there is some evidence that would suggest water is involved as the primary constituent of ice. And not all that much water at that. The average drop below present day seal levels is almost negligible, only about 300 feet on average. The NRC states that the average swing between an ice age and an interglacial is a relatively easy to geoengineer 400 feet.
    So we better get cracking. And the place to start is with CO2. It will be a good learning experience. And as we all know, a mistake is a learning experience you commit more than once. So focusing the first time on CO2 for climate engineering will in no way qualify as a mistake, it will be a learning experience, perhaps of the best kind. Especially from the psychological point of view.
    You see a fairly exhaustive psychological study completed in the 1970’s found that the human being is nine times more susceptible to rumor than it is to fact. Call it the 9TR for short. It is relatively easy to prove with this simple question: which, of all mankind’s religions is the correct one? In your deliberations you are allowed to consider Zeus, and the pantheon of gods once resident on Mt. Olympus, or Rah, the former sun god of ancient Egyptian society, or perhaps you might select Ishtar, the god that preceded Mohammed and the establishment of Islam, a religion still practiced today.
    Which brings us to denial. Assume, for a moment, that the GHG-AGW theory is correct. Remember, this is based on predictions, not actual facts, but potential future facts, facts which have yet to occur (not substantially different from a rumor). Integrate with that what Dr. Deming has correctly reported from the factual knowledge base we have painstakingly gleaned from vast proxy records, that ice ages tend to begin very quickly, from just a few years to no more than decades. If we give equal status to future fantasies (those would be model results which have yet to duplicate a known past climate change event) and to facts (things which have occurred and are not in dispute), then the vast majority who believe in GHG-AGW may find themselves with the embarrassing need to spew out as much GHGs as possible (instead of reducing them) in order to cushion our next slide into an ice age.
    Understand of course, that all six interglacials dating back to the Mid Pleistocene Transition (when we shifted from the 41k yr ice age/interglacial couple to the 100k yr one we have been on for the past 800k years) have each lasted roughly half of a precessional cycle (a precessional cycle is 23k years long). So, at 11,500 years, precisely half a precessional cycle, this one, the Holocene, is pretty much kaput.
    When you get your mind wrapped around that fact, perhaps you, as I, will begin to ponder just what an ice age means as regards our own evolution. Spend some time researching climate and hominid evolution, and you will soon come to realize that it may just have been responsible for what we know is the most rapid encephalization of any species yet recorded in the fossil record, taking us from a 500cc brain case to a 2,500 year brain case in just 3 million years (or 33 major climate change events). Which puts a fascinating spin on climate change. It just could be that climate change is the only thing known to smarten members of the genus Homo up. If this really is the case, then it occurs to me that we really could use an ice age right about now.
    Meanwhile, enjoy the interglacial. While it lasts…………….

  58. There is a bit of land with no current use that could be used to generate electricity, not wilderness, much of it likely to be in bankruptcy soon, so it should be as good as it gets, they call it the San Joaquin Valley. Who needs food anyway?

  59. Hey, I know this is an extremely conservative website.

    Define extremely conservative, Egan.
    Anyway, it’s really depressing to see greenies show up spouting the usual mythology. Anyone know what each of their urban enclaves were before they were six dollar coffee joints, socialized institutions of higher indoctrination, and Needless Markup shrines? (See, two can play the political stereotyping game.)
    They were vast preserves of pristine wildlands, devoid of the harmful and morally repugnant activities of the dreaded human species. And, oddly, all of them were on the opposite end of the environmental scale from the wastelands that rightly should house energy producers. It’s kind of staggering to be lectured about preserving the wastelands of Nevada (I lived in NV for a decade. I know what I’m talking about) while your PC and home theater and your side by side Sub Zero and your pool skimmers and your Volvo charger hum incessantly.
    Of course, the problem with facts are not the facts themselves. The problem with facts is how they are so easily and readily assembled into poor perspectives. When they turn green, these can be so poorly constructed that we can (and should) call them myth.

  60. It would not work anyway. The sun has disappeared. At least its no longer in the side bar and the SOHO site seems to be gone. Watts Up With That?

  61. YinYang. Everything from bacteria to people eats something else to survive and propagate. That’s the fundamental truth that many econuts cannot come to grips with. Life and the universe is messy and violent, and they just cannot deal with it.

  62. So, the output of this plant would have been up to 440 MegaWatts? During what times of the day? I doubt it would be anywhere near this output at 9Am in the morning.

  63. tarpon 5:23:28
    Here’s an idea I don’t see discussed enough. Dump unrecyclable nuclear wastes in the deep oceanic trenches, where nothing can happen to them for hundreds of half lives except be silted over. Easy, simple, solution.
    =========================================

  64. John A (04:29:07) : “This is not a “very conservative” blog. … This blog is about the reality of climate science and the reality of science. …
    Pleased you posted all you did, John. Wholly agree and it did need saying just to keep the record — perhaps the reality — straight.

  65. So let me get this straight…
    This plant would have resulted in our saving energy for other nations to burn, and it would have taken only a fraction of the area of the Mojave desert?
    So what’s the problem?
    Maybe somebody should modify the bill so Feinstein’s husband’s firm profits in some way.
    On a more serious note, can anybody see what’s going on here? Environmentalists want us to do with less and have a lower standard of living and a major reason why they want us to use less oil is so other developing nations have access to it to help develop their economies.
    Perhaps we should teabag environmentalists like we have been teabagging democrats.

  66. you could invent a tree that generated electricity, grew it’s own outlets, stored excess electricity with 100% efficientcy, absorbed twice the CO2 of a normal tree, never shed it’s leaves, made beautiful flowers in the spring, had a partridge in it and they would probably protest it because it competes with native trees for resources.

  67. Truth be told –
    Methinks the REAL reason this project was shelved was an old-fashioned, Republican one. It didn’t appear to be financially profitable. Last summer natural gas was $13 per mcf – this summer it was $3 per mcf. With oodles of the stuff pouring over the Canadian border with no place to go.
    Hey, I don’t blame these guys for trying to cash in on federal “Green Energy” money. That’s what T. Boone Pickens was doing with his mega-wind farm ideas – which he also shelved, by the way. Folks have been cashing in on the free wheelbarrows of public money since the days of the Transcontinental Railroad – probably even the Roman Empire and the Appian Way Economic Development Project back in 312 BC.

  68. John Egan (21:14:04) :
    Dear Mr. Smith –
    I live in rural Wyoming.

    Given that you took offense at my characterization of ‘rabid greens’; does that indicate you are self identifying as a ‘rabid green’?
    I’ve also known a smaller number of ‘rational greens’ (in fact, I’d call myself one. Though I’ve been working on coining the term “Olive” for the ‘rational greens’)
    I have no desire to despoil the world. What we do to redwoods makes ‘sin’ too weak a word. I would like to see roughly 1/2 the world set aside for the non-human occupants (and think would could easily do that with no impact on our lifestyles.)
    But I’ve also been “nose to nose and belly to belly” with a lot of “rabid greens” (something about living in SillyCon Valley that leads to proximity). My statements were NOT an ad hominem. As I stated, each of those characterizations came from a real world interaction. It is simply accurate reporting of a fringe group.
    For example, right now a person living a few houses away has a fungus on his arm. The patch has grown to about 3 inches in diameter. He refuses to put anti-fungals on it and is certain that it is just because his internal energies are not balanced right. He, BTW, has an engineering degree from a name school…
    I had the conversation about light switches vs powerplants with a very cute and very clueless girl at a meeting of one of the organizations ( I think it was Sierra Club, but it was 30 years ago and I was looking at her more than whoever was speaking 😉 I tried desperately to be interested in her, but as Ron White put it “You cain’t fix stupid”; and I could not get past that.
    I could go down the whole list.
    That you know folks who drill gas wells and shoot bear (and have not poisoned them nor burned their houses down) leads me to believe you are not a “rabid environmentalist” but just took issue with my comments for other reasons.
    So before accusing someone of an ad hominem, take a look at the actions of groups like “Earth First”. A couple of years ago they burned down a bunch of homes that were being built near the ocean here. The land was privately owned. The permits were granted. The site was in a semi-urban area with surrounding homes. They “felt” it was overdevelopment in that the homes were 2 story not one and the land could have been returned to nature instead. (And they are still at it…)
    So you want to call that an ad hominem? Then talk to these folks first:
    http://earthfirstroadshow.wordpress.com/our-presentation/map-of-resistance/
    Map of Resistance
    Below are the numbers that correlate with the red (threats) and green (actions) flags on our ‘map of resistance’ that we present.

    Under their “green” accomplishments:
    16 – New York, NY: 1/6/09 A flaming street blockade finished out a benefit show for Eco-Prisoners and the EF!J
    17 – Whatcom County, WA and Sammamish, WA: arson of partially built homes to protest sprawl, 2005
    18 – Charlotte, NC, Lancaster Co. SC: 6/6/08 17 partially constructed luxury homes burned down

    Under their “red flags”
    5 – Oklahoma City: Natural Gas drilling and shiping
    6 – Western North Carolina: Cliffside Coal power plant expansion
    7 – Broward Co. FL: New Liquified Natural Gas Terminal proposed by Calypso LNG
    8 – Black Mesa, AZ: Roan Plateau to be mined for coal by Peabody
    9 – New Coal plant proposed on MN/SD Border
    10 – Buffalo slaughter in and near Yellowstone National Park
    11 – OH, NY, and PA: Marcellus Shale Natural Gas drilling
    12 – Elliotsville, ME: Plum Creek Development of the NorthWoods
    13 – South Florida: West County Energy Center, Liquified Natural Gas Terminal and 500 miles of new pipeline

    There is no energy development that they favor, as near as I can tell. Not even Natural Gas from Wyoming…
    But this ought to be fun:
    21 – Los Angeles, CA: UCLA continues to engage in vivisection
    22 – Santa Cruz, CA: University plans to expand into the redwood forest
    23 – Crystal River, FL: Progress Energy proposing to build a Nuclear Power Plant

    They want to take on the greens at U.C. Santa Cruz over redwoods…
    If you ever get a chance to visit the UCSC campus, it is beautiful. The buildings are darned near wrapped in Redwood trees. It is like something out of a fantasy world where people and nature blend together. (And as I noted elsewhere, UCSC is rather rabidly left wing in it’s own way). I almost attended it in the ’70s when it was fairly new, and had taken my son to look it over (and discovered it was full of radical left wing agenda…)
    So sit back, pop a cold one, and watch what happens when the Loony Left meets the Radical Rabid Greens. (You just can’t make this stuff up…)
    Oh, note that the “redwoods” that they talk about are not some pristine park. UCSC is built on land that was the Cowell Ranch and was donated for the making of the campus. So private land, a working ranch, was donated for a campus, used for the campus, developed with extraordinary environmental sensitivity blending the buildings into the forested part, and they want to put up a few more buildings in the same manner. Nope, can’t have that…

    28 – Vancouver, BC: development in relation to the 2010 Winter Olympics
    29 – Atlantica Free Trade Area to be created and filled with new infrastructure projects
    30 – Ohio/West Virginia: I-70- Truck Only Lanes from Kansas City to OH/WV border
    31 – I-15 Expansion around Salt Lake City and Las Vegas

    And you want to have the Olympics? How could you! (Notice this is REdevelopment …)
    Want to separate trucks from other traffic for safety? Want to bypass the freeway around the city so there is less fuel wasted and less smog? Nope, not good enough.
    Want to mine phosphate to fertilize crops so you can eat?
    43 – Manatee County, FL: Proposed phosphate mine
    44 – Alachua County, FL: Proposed bio-mass incinerator, and proposed Plum Creek Development
    45 – near Cincinnati, OH: proposal to re-open old nuclear power plant
    46 – Upper Peninsula, MI: metallic sulfide and uranium mining: http://www.savethewildup.org/blog/maps/
    Can’t have that. Heck, can’t burn your garbage either (nor can you bury it… but that’s another story). Oh, and don’t even think of mining Uranium.
    So if you wish to self identify with the the “rabid greens”, go right ahead. Me? I’d rather be an Olive.

  69. PS – I do take some small degree of comfort that I am called a “denier” over at Daily Kos and an “econut” here. I must be doing something right.

  70. E.M.Smith: I hope you are wrong. I fear you are right.
    One additional issue: How would they get the power from the plant to the consumer? Can’t build any transmission lines, the eco’s block that at every turn. Water for cleaning is only part of the problem, sand is a bigger one. Wind, not uncommon in the Mojave, tends to pick up sand, which does a rather nice job of etching glass, as in mirrors. I suspect that will reduce efficiency.
    Spent nearly 20 years near the Zion nuke plant north of Chicago. Used Lake Michigan for part of the cooling. Best fishing on the lake, about a mile out.
    And, you could do it at night. Easy to spot the glowing fish.

  71. Robert E. Phelan (23:17:17) : OK, you answered the question before it got posted. I’ll support the towers along I-15, but I’ll make a small wager (preferably in Lucia’s Quatloos, all I can really afford and I can print them at home) that THAT location will also prove environmentally unacceptable and that no technology will be green enough.
    I-15? Ooohhh NOoohhh Mister Bill! No development near I-15!:
    31 – I-15 Expansion around Salt Lake City and Las Vegas
    Earth First will not allow that! (Especially in the desert near Las Vegas…)

  72. pyromancer76 (01:05:56) :
    Everything EM Smith said is true. However, we do not need a solar monstrosity on the Mojave. Wait until solar is available in urban areas;

    Thanks!
    One of the best installations I’ve seen is at my kids High School. They put up a PV farm. Over the parking lot. Cars sit in the shade, staying cool and saving upholstery. Rain gets collected in drains instead of puddles. Nice.
    Only “brain dead” feature is that the inverters have big cooling fans on them that seem to run all the time, even if there is no sun… I’m hoping it’s just some kind of short term thermal overrun at first dusk.
    I’m all for solar panels over any and every parking lot. Talk about your wasteland… Now if you couple that with daytime charging of electric cars during peak sun, you start to get somewhere. (It still takes 20 years+ to convert to solar electric cars, but the direction is then sound.)

  73. Surely the key issue here, at least at present, is the question of subsidies.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I doubt that a project like this would be considered if there were no subdidies available.
    I say that all subsidies should be removed and then we can talk about so-called sustainable energy projects.

  74. “Life and the universe is messy and violent, and they just cannot deal with it.”
    That’s because most of them grew up posh in clean homes and all the clean food and drink money can afford. They got the money free from mummy and daddy so they don’t have much of a work ethic either. To them the idea that people live in dirt and work hard is some sort of unnatural crime created by “the 40 Jews who rule the world and exploit workers’. Fact is life is naturally dirty, dangerous and hard work, the more we work out ourselves out of that abysmal condition the more carbon intensive it is. This logic evades the posh elitist who think people should be like them – sit around smoking pot and get everything for free.

  75. The business to get into is selling power to California. They will soon be completely dependent on outside power.
    Just make sure the power plants are in another state/country.

  76. Given how rabid and negative the ecos behave i am reminded of the scene in independence Day when the president asks the alien ‘what do you want us to do’ and I can picture the ecos yelling ‘DIE’ – they do not want a solution to energy problems.

  77. Tenuc (01:43:45) :
    Until we get the problem of fussion power generaton cracked, it looks like fission power plants are the only real alternative to fossil fuels.
    However, more money needs to be pumped into the problem of getting rid of the radoactive waste these plants produce in a ‘future safe’ way before I would support this strategy.

    In the ’80s or so I was fairly rabidly anti-nuke. Didn’t see any 25,000 year civilizations that would give me confidence that we could monitor waste sites that long…
    Later I found out that the 25,000 years is based on a fiction. Sound familiar? It is based on “to reach background radiation”. But the original ore was NOT at background. For the waste to become no more radio active than the original ore takes a few hundred years. (The exact number depends on the particular ore and particular waste, but it is on the order of 250 years.)
    That was the moment when I began re-thinking my opposition to fission…
    So build a traveling wave reactor next to the mine, run it for 50 to 80 years, then pour concrete over it for 200. Not exactly changing the final result for that patch of dirt much.
    Aron (02:08:13) : What will those ecominded celebs in California do when the lights go out and they won’t have energy to power their industry?
    Well, we already had this happen. (Remember Gov. Greyout Davis?)
    So it is simply a matter of reading your history. They will buy the power from someone else (Arizona, Washington State, maybe Mexico if the whole US goes off the deep end.) Then they will file suits over the cost. Finally, they will blame “big business greed” for whatever results.
    No, Enron did NOT cause the power shortages in California. They did exploit, at a profit, the insane requirements of our PUC that 1) The distribution utility could not own generation and 2) they could not have long term contracts for power. The best description of this came from Dennis Miller who aptly called it “Buying power at mini-bar prices”. (The thesis was that buying all power at spot prices would lead to lower prices. So much for theory. Someone had to learn that inelastic price demand curves only lead to very low prices when supply is in excess and the buyer is not captive.)
    So they will not for a moment understand the connection between their “green agenda” and the lights going out. It will all be the fault of evil business.
    Also, some of us will resort to far less efficient and far more ecologically damaging solutions to continue having a decent life:
    I had bought 2 generators during our prior round of blackouts.
    I’m now down to only 1 generator (I sold my second to a friend who had none – so it is not out of service.) but still have all my inverter kit. WHEN the lights go out (from earthquake, storm, or government idiocy) I fire up the generator. All the wiring is in place to ‘cut over’ in about 2 minutes. Not a major impact (and critical stuff is on mini-UPS boxes. Which, btw, have standby battery losses and parasitic losses and transformer losses and contain lead and …)
    So instead of 50%+ efficient nearly zero smog lowest cost production, I run on gasoline with no smog controls and about $0.25 /kW-hr with all the safety that comes from pouring gasoline into hot generators implies…
    And if gasoline is not available, I have an inverter that can be connected to my Diesel car that can run on vegetable oil. Yes, I can burn food at several dollars a gallon in a completely non-smog controlled Diesel from the 1980s. But the coffee maker will run, the Satellite TV will entertain me, and I can charge the phone. (And power the non-smog controlled fireplace insert fan to burn the trees I’ll be chopping down to stay warm in winter…)
    If food is not available, well, lights are going to be the least of our worries.

  78. John Egan wrote:
    In addition, the desert may SEEM like a wasteland to city folk who don’t really give a crap about any environment that doesn’t have a Starbucks around the corner or a nice bluegrass lawn in suburbia, but desert environments are some of the most fragile of ecosystems. In addition to the threats to the rare natural springs that occur in deserts because of water withdrawals – roads, powerlines, and service areas must be constructed. Damage to thin topsoils and flora may take centuries to recover.
    Hmmm. I guess those bighorn sheep can live in a hostile environment scaling rock faces that stand at 70 + degree angle, but they can’t cross a road. And those poor sidewinders can’t either…. well, they could, but ever time they try, a car is always there to run them over, since there would be so much traffic traveling down the service road to the station. Are there any natural spring at that spot? Please show which flora and fauna endemic to this specific area will actually be damaged? Prove your very generalized statement is relevent to this specific part of region.
    This is one of the things about the modern environmental movement that really gets under my skin, this whole quasi-hippie fragile Earth philosophy. Yes there are places on the Earth that do have an ecological fragile foothold – tidepools comes to mind – but the desert isn’t one of them. Desert topography is an end extreme on the scale of observed surface states, and is not “delicate” at all. A desert environment is very hard to change it and keep it changed.

  79. Gary P (05:51:18) :
    The sun has disappeared. At least its no longer in the side bar and the SOHO site seems to be gone. Watts Up With That?

    Ahem… Electrical Upgrade

  80. Mr. Hancock,
    Silicon is not toxic.
    Which small towns in China have been rendered polluted waste lands from the manufacturing of solar panels? I travel a lot in China partly because of PV business. Where are these polluted towns?
    There are PV manufacturing companies whose solar panels are getting closer to the critical 1$/Watt price range.
    Cadmium is toxic in CdTe based solar panels. However, old CdTe panels can now be recycled. Many of the materials used in semiconductor manufacturing industry are far more toxic than the materials now used in PV industry.

  81. Donald in Australia (02:45:50) : California needs cheap energy, and does not want to tread the path of Spain and end up with 18% unemployment as industry flees the “green” power costs.
    Well, in the last couple of months we went from 10% to 12.2% unemployment and still rising. Meg Whitman has announced she is running for governor with part of her platform being repeal of our version of Cap and Tirade as it is a jobs killer and companies will continue to flee until it is repealed.
    OK, 2 percent in about 2 months. 18-12= 6
    By my calculations, this “positive feedback loop” with “catastrophic runaway job loss” has hit a “tipping point” and we are “doomed” to hit 18% unemployment about March of next year. Even if you cut job losses in half, we hit 18% by one year from now.
    Not pretty.
    So what was that about Spain again? Oh, California in March? And when are the elections?
    Memo To World: Watch California. This is what you are signing up to have.
    (Is there any stronger word than “implosion”?)

  82. I tend to agree with john Egan that the use of water for cleaning is a fatal flaw in this solar farm, and to my thinking all others. The most rational thing to do is build coal, gas, and nuclear plants instead.

  83. w demisch (20:13:40) :

    In fairness, it does not seem unreasonable to expect that this facility be placed on non conservation land.

    “Conservation land” covers most of the California desert (1/4 of the state). The California Desert Conservation Area is a multi-use area, with specially-protected set-asides for desert tortoises, kangaroo rats, joshua trees, and more. http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd/cdca_development.html The chosen spot could not have been one of those set-asides, or the project would never have gotten this far. I speculate that this land was part of an effort to expand the CDCA and head off development in the 1990s, when Congress was being pressured to close off most human uses.
    This land is only about three miles from the I-15 freeway, shortly before one reaches the Nevada state line. They probably chose the location because of its proximity to the freeway right-of-way (high voltage power lines also have an approval process), as well as for the jobs-poor communities in the area.
    John Egan (21:43:13) :

    Hell, you could build solar towers all along I-15 to Vegas and pay for the project with billboard advertising…

    This is about as close as we can get to putting towers along the I-15. If not there, where? Where are all those advances in photovoltaics?
    RACookPE (22:41:35) :

    Desert soil and no water means the soil is already sterile…

    Believe me, the high desert is teeming with life. Cleared land quickly repopulates after it rains. And because the mirrors cannot completely shut off all light and moisture, there will be life underneath them. (If they were built, that is.) Snows are only a few times per year.
    Residents of the Mojave Desert want projects like these. Non-polluting jobs. Jobs outside of the gas stations and diners that dominate the local economy. A chance to make “green” energy prove itself. And, yes, they want to keep the tortoises and wildflowers. I’m sure BLM could have used the additional revenue to hire more rangers and cut down on off-road vehicle riders going outside their assigned areas.
    Beside eliminating needed energy production, this will result in additional damage to the Mojave due to lack of funds for enforcement against ORV riders who continually seek fresh areas to tear up.

  84. E.M.Smith (09:29:53) : Well, in the last couple of months we went from 10% to 12.2% unemployment and still rising.
    Oh, and just as a point of clarification: That 12.2% does not include the folks who have bailed for other states, gone back to Mexico, or, like me, are not seeking an unemployment check.
    I’d love to get a job managing a computer site, teaching computer stuff, or even just doing programming. I’m “making a living” by trading a modest sized retirement account (a decade or so earlier than expected…) But folks like me are not counted in the unemployment insurance numbers. Nor are the folks who have run out of said unemployment payments. So the actual unemployed from California are far far higher than that 12.2% number.

  85. “It takes 4000 acres to produce 440 megawatts?
    The Cordova nuke plant in Illinois produces 1,700 megawatts on 765 acres, and some of that acreage is in corn.”
    Callaway in MO produces 1200 MW on 5228 acres, but the “Campus” is probably on less than 200 acres. They wanted to put in a second 1600 MW reactor but the environmental concerns closed it down. Would have stayed on the original “Campus” sight. In the meantime, the other 5000 acres is pretty dang good hunting.

  86. ralph (04:52:39) :
    >>>Let the name of Moses be stricken from every book and
    That was Akhenaton, the heretic pharaoh, was it not?

    It was standard practice for every power shift. The prior Pharaoh would live for ever in the afterlife and be a threat as long as their name or likeness existed. But if you erased them from all stone and writings, then you erased them from history and from the afterlife as well.
    And that is why so many of the great artworks of egypt are missing a nose or other parts.
    There were several cases where they almost erased everything, including the female Pharaoh who did a better job than most of the men…
    Hatshepsut
    Interestingly enough, they found her mummy and are mapping her DNA. Maybe there is something to this eternal existing thing. We might be able to whomp up a new Hatshepsut clone in a couple of years…
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/jun/28/artnews.egypt

  87. Jari – Any names on the $1/Watt companies? – surely they are all on the same playing field? Or are you saying there are some who have stolen a march somehow?
    EM Smith – “Olive green” Good stuff!
    Re: water and dust:
    http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/about_us/environmental_stewardship/
    No numbers on consumption but obviously it is an issue they are aware of. I’d say it would n’t be too difficult to make a closed system for water cleaning which could run at night to minimise evap. losses?

  88. Ron de Haan (05:21:06) :
    I’ve found this comment and share it with you.

    Marvelously well done!
    each lasted roughly half of a precessional cycle (a precessional cycle is 23k years long). So, at 11,500 years, precisely half a precessional cycle, this one, the Holocene, is pretty much kaput.
    Um, not all precessional cycles are created equal. This one has a rather shallow change of obliquity, IIRC, so might last a bit longer than most and / or might have a shallower entry into ice age conditions. The operative word being “might”…
    It just could be that climate change is the only thing known to smarten members of the genus Homo up. If this really is the case, then it occurs to me that we really could use an ice age right about now.
    Gosh, and invert the logic (a standard technique that I love) and you get that maybe part of our slide into idiocy has been the last 10,000 years of pleasant stable warm climate…
    BTW, D/O events continue into the interglacials as Bond Events. Same process, different name, since different folks found it in different records in the two climate regimes. It is a nominal 1470 year cycle but has error bands of a couple of hundred years. The last one was the start of The Dark Ages in 535 AD. Got that. OK, for the guy in the back with the puzzled look and his hand up: 1470+535= 2005
    So you say the sun suddenly stopped making spots and shut down some processes via an unknown process with unknown effects? And the volcanoes are starting to grumble all over the place? And Chaiten is looking like a potential Supervolacano and has been venting for 18 months straight? (So when does the caldera depressurize and collapse in a super erruption?)
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/bond-event-zero/
    Personally, I’m hoping we just have some modestly cold winters for 30 years until the PDO flips back and Bond Event Zero ™ happens in a few hundred years… or more.
    But worry about CO2? It isn’t even on the list. Frankly, I’m more worried about athletes foot fungus than CO2.

  89. E.M.Smith (21:00:51):
    Great rant! My friend is writing a book called “Electricity Comes From Walls” and your post would make a good chapter.

  90. Ivanpah is still alive and kicking. The project that got scrapped was a smaller project also being planned by Brightsource.

  91. “The rapid increases in efficiency of photovoltaics may actually make thermal solar obsolete in short order – think 8-track tape players.”
    While that is certainly possible, it is still a leap of faith. We can’t make spending decisions or not make spending decisions based on what might happen “someday”.
    We have the technology right this minute to eliminate all of our coal power production. We could recycle nuclear fuel. That doesn’t mean that we should stop working on PVs, it just means that in the meantime, we could right now eliminate coal plants with the techology we have at hand.
    Please google for “Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste”, an article that appeared in Scientific American in 2005. There are some copies of it in PDF form on the web. I seriously invite people to read that. It certainly appears that India and China have.

  92. Jari (09:19:57) :
    Mr. Hancock,
    Silicon is not toxic.

    But the phosgene and arsine gasses used as common dopants are incredibly toxic. And don’t forget the tons of lead solder used on those things, especially the polycrystaline ones.
    Not against ’em, BTW, just need to be aware that they do involve rather a lot of toxic materials in their processing. We’ll get it down over time (the ones printed with PV ink are very low toxics) but it is not a free lunch.
    FWIW, I’m from the “Poison is in the dose” school. Salt is lethal, water is lethal, even oxygen is lethal if the dose is high enough. We all have some amount of Plutonium in us and we all have dioxins and mercury too. The only thing that really matters is the dose. (For fun, look up the Potassium 40 percentage in your body and the radiation dose it “provides” to you… then go eat a banana…)
    BTW, silicosis is not pretty:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicosis
    You need to control cutting and milling dust in making silicon cells and you need to be very careful in mining the silica from which it is made.

  93. Me personally, I would rather see a Coal fired power station built for the cheapest, cost effective electricity money can buy… It is also nearly as clean as gas nowadays with all the pollution controls and technology.
    As for future power, that lies with nuclear fission, uranium and thorium… and later possibly fussion.
    As for Solar…. I don’t mind them building a solar powered station in the desert…. as long as it is not subsidized by tax dollars…. Engineering challenges must ultimately be cost effective and reality based.

  94. E M Smith (10:26:06) – Your inverted logic works for me . To take such thinking a little further , might not the accelerating slide into idiocy that I have observed over the last two decades indicate that Homo Sapiens’ cranial capacity has diminished as a preprogramed evolutionary response to an impending glaciation ? After all , some studies have suggested that ice ages occur very rapidly – say , in a period of twenty or so years . Just askin’ .

  95. “…There is a bit of land with no current use that could be used to generate electricity, not wilderness, much of it likely to be in bankruptcy soon, so it should be as good as it gets…”
    …and it’s known as Washington D.C.

  96. A Jones: Solar receptors have to be kept clean. Washing is the best choice and the need to clean in the desert is frequent. Translated, that means solar farms require a great deal of water.

  97. kim (06:45:54) :
    “Here’s an idea I don’t see discussed enough. Dump unrecyclable nuclear wastes in the deep oceanic trenches, where nothing can happen to them for hundreds of half lives except be silted over. Easy, simple, solution.”
    Deep ocean trenches are the product of tectonic plate subduction zones. The plate that goes down is heated by friction resulting in a line of volcanoes parallel to the trench.
    Whatever is dumped into a trench is likely to be put in the atmosphere from an eruption. I don’t know how long it might be from subduction to eruption but that needs to be answered with some conviction before dumping radioactive waste in the ocean.
    One of many such sources is: http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Tw-Z/Volcanoes-Submarine.html

  98. henry (11:38:42) :
    …and it’s known as Washington D.C.
    A Sterling engine next to the Capitol could produce vast amounts of power.
    I have doubts about 20% PV efficiency. Maybe under ideal conditions. Real world? Probably half that. And a lot less after a sand laden wind storm. Zero after a good Colorado style hail storm.
    If we reprocess spent nuclear fuel and waste, we can reduce the volume by 90% and recover a lot of useful fuel. France has done it for 30 years.
    I’ve been a ‘rational ecologist’ since Silent Spring appeared. “Do what works” doesn’t get invited to fancy cocktail parties.

  99. Yeah, here’s more proof that those green jobs are really working for California. 41% unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley to save an unendangered fish. State unemployment is over 20% when you include people who’ve dropped off the unemployment roles. Wonderful. Vote in environmental enthusiasts, vote out jobs.

  100. While nuclear is the obvious choice (at least in my mind), California in particular will never build any more (until things become extremely dire – if even then). Interestingly, I never hear a peep about wave or tidal energy. California (and the entire West coast) are uniquely suited to wave energy generation in particular.
    http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/tech.htm
    In my mind wave farms could be used to power desalination plants during severe drought (even those like our current “severe drought” that are largely man-made… thank you Delta Smelt Enviros).
    Plus the wave farms are installed over the horizon and are not visible from the shore. Greenies should be happy as the buoys don’t affect whale migration, and indeed the moorings actually attract fish (artificial reefs).
    However, if you really want consistency from the ocean, then I think you have to go tidal. Last I heard, there was a pilot project underway in San Francisco Bay (of all places). In order to avoid using underwater turbines (so as not to chop up the local inhabitants) the device utilizes a shape that creates a venturi… don’t recall the specifics of how that turned land based turbines… nor do understand how subjecting a mackerel to a massive underwater tornado would be more humane than dicing it in a turbine. But I obviously don’t have a whole grasp on the technology involved.
    I think there should be more public discussion (at least on the coasts) of these ocean based alternate energy sources (I personally would just drill for oil and gas… but these are the times we live in).
    PS- on nuclear waste – Richard A. Muller in “Physics for Future Presidents” indicates that the average annual waste from a single nuclear plant will fit into the back of a standard pickup truck.

  101. @ Maurice Garoutte (12:20:46) : & kim (06:45:54) : Re: nuke waste in the ocean.
    That’s nothing new. Oil drums full of it were being dumped a few hundred miles off the US west coast in the mid ’50’s. Hasn’t seemed to bother anything.

  102. I shouldn’t worry too much. There is a sunk ammunition ship in the Thames near London with some 1500 tons of munitions still on board. She has been there, her upperworks show at low tide, since 1944.
    So there she be and there she stay and she ain’t gone bang yet, despite scare stories every few years.
    Kindest Regards

  103. Who is going to clean up the mess when these solar and wind farms go bust?
    I resent the notion that the West’s deserts are barren wastelands good for nothing more than fulfilling some fool’s Rube Goldgerg (Heath Robinson) fantasies.
    There is certainly room for development and resource exploitation, but these grandiose schemes that seem to pop up every 10 or 15 years would destroy enormous areas for decades, possibly centuries or millenia.
    It takes more than the next rain to cover the scars made by a bulldozer or an ORV, and metal doesn’t disappear very fast in the desert.
    Big solar may provide a temporary boost to employment, but, the cost in subsidies and permanent ugliness is not something I am willing to pay, for such a meager return. I would honestly rather see a coal mine and a (modern) power plant.
    Keep solar on rooftops and parking lots!

  104. When I lived out in the CA desert (about 12 years), periodically we’d get nasty wind/sandstorms that would actually frost the windows on a vehicle parked out in it overnight. How do the solar mirror companies deal with that little problem out there in the Ivanpah flats? Visited/camped around that area back in the 70’s, it surely is/was? a scenic and a beautiful area. Hacking it up with a worthless solar installation seems like a damn shame. Probably makes no difference, as the desert aint what it used to be anyway. Last time I was out near the Old Woman Mountains, the light pollution from Lake Havasu and Vegas could be seen plainly at night. Not much of a wilderness experience when you can read the newspaper at midnight by the city lights in the distance.

  105. lnxwalt (09:35:10) :
    ………………..
    This land is only about three miles from the I-15 freeway, shortly before one reaches the Nevada state line. They probably chose the location because of its proximity to the freeway right-of-way (high voltage power lines also have an approval process), as well as for the jobs-poor communities in the area.
    …………………..
    This is about as close as we can get to putting towers along the I-15. If not there, where? Where are all those advances in photovoltaics?
    ………………..
    Believe me, the high desert is teeming with life. Cleared land quickly repopulates after it rains. And because the mirrors cannot completely shut off all light and moisture, there will be life underneath them. (If they were built, that is.) Snows are only a few times per year.
    Residents of the Mojave Desert want projects like these. Non-polluting jobs. Jobs outside of the gas stations and diners that dominate the local economy. A chance to make “green” energy prove itself. And, yes, they want to keep the tortoises and wildflowers. I’m sure BLM could have used the additional revenue to hire more rangers and cut down on off-road vehicle riders going outside their assigned areas.
    …………………..
    Great post.
    IMO it is a no-brainer to put solar in the desert, Sahara, Gobi too. Like the decommisioned & sunk oil rigs we will see that given a chance nature is wonderfully adaptable and these facilities would become oasis of life.

  106. @ kuhnkat (19:36:56) : I’d refer you to a couple other areas: The Explorer Trench, and the subduction zone just south of the Aleutians, both very deep and excellent drop sites. And of course, let’s not forget the several nuclear bombs and missiles that have been lost at sea ( Savannah Georgia), a couple nuke subs (our’s and Russian), and the hundreds of tests carried out during that period. Personally, I think folks freak out far too easily over nukes – waste or weapons.

  107. E.M.Smith (10:26:16) :
    This one has a rather shallow change of obliquity, IIRC, so might last a bit longer than most and / or might have a shallower entry into ice age conditions
    BTW, in 1960, at Valdivia, Chile, there were three 7 grade richter earthquakes, one after the other, and a 9 degrees richter earthquake the day after (the strongest ever recorded in historic times), tsunami and 2 meters ground collapse, which moved the earth axis in 3 centimeters ! (1.2 inches-).

  108. Typical, they demand clean renewable power and then moan and protest when it is offered.
    They do not want clean power, they do not want progress. What they want is for humanity to be sent back to the stone age, or made extinct altogether.

  109. Re: RACOOKPE COMMENTS-
    A typical 500 Kv transmission line would carry 440 Mw (or about 520 Mva) easily at about 600 amps. Losses over 200 miles would be about 2-3% depending on the conductor selected. Typical loading for a 500 Kv line is more in the 2500-3500 Mva ranges. The site described could tie to the main grid at several alternative points within 100 miles. Where/how do you arrive at the losses you cite?

  110. As this incident and many others strongly indicate, “environmentalism” is often a disguise for something else entirely. Many of the same folks who promote “green” can be expected to protest construction of any “for profit” power plant, regardless of the proposed technology. The pathetic energy densities of wind and solar yield terrible economics (hence the subsidies) and an enormous physical footprint. Although the economics will eventually kill both technologies in any event, the humongous footprint will probably save us $ billions in avoided subsidies and skyrocketing utility costs because that footprint makes successful “environmental intervention” a walk in the park.

  111. Item 1. Take a look on Wikipedia at Insolation. Urban areas are rarely sited where the best insolation is. And there are economies of scale to be had with large facilities rather than lost of small ones. And that means less mining and fabrication, and hence less other burden on the environment. People do not appreciate how much resources “renewable” facilities take to construct.
    Item 2. Spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is actually an unused resource more than waste. We had a reprocessing facility built and ready to go, when President J Carter killed it. So we’ve been just been storing SNF on site. Yucca Mountain has been shutdown by President Obama. Fourth Generation reactors under development will be able to use SNF as start-up fuel and operational fuel (and use depleted Uranium as operational fuel), the final waste will be no more radioactive than ore, eliminating the problem. And extending our nuclear fuel supply by an order of magnitude or more. The Japanese have a technique for extracting Urainium from seawater that is almost economical now, arguably making fission a “renewable” energy source. Techniques are also being developed to extract Uranium from coal ash and tailings contaminated water.
    Item 3. Solar and wind are hugely more expensive than fission, not just in terms of money, but also is resources consumed, like steel, copper, and concrete. Neither are as environmentally benign as their partisans imply.

  112. Well the Jan 2008 issue of Scientific American Magazine, has a serious article about a 30,000 squ mile solar plant out in those south western desert wastel ands, all covered with solar cells; and another smaller one of 16,000 squ miles with solar mirrors, and steam turbines.
    If those plants were to get built, they would become vandal and terrrorism targets; not to mention vulnerable in any local war scenario.
    So they would have to be fenced off, and patrolled by armed guards, with all human habitation removed from that total land area.
    30,000 squ miles is 19.2 million acres, which just happens to be the exact size (roughly) of the entire Arctic National Wildlife Reguge; in which drillers would like to take up 2400 acres to drill for the oil there.
    Solar energy, which powers ALL renewable energy sources, arrives at 1 KW/m^2 peak on the surface, and averages a small fraction of that over time. The land area required is always much greater (except on the equator, because of shadowing of one collector by another. So the trouble with renewable energy, is it simply doesn’t renew, any where near fast enough.

  113. Wind turbines rotate at about 7 rpm. I timed them while driving by. The notion that they blenderize birds is nonsensical.
    The notion that ethanol is turning food into fuel, and causing starvation is exceptionally nonsensical. Do you really want me to point out all of the ways?
    Perhaps the solar plants should be moved to drier southern ranch country, such as New Mexico. The cattle would enjoy the shade and richer vegetation. I don’t understand why some people here are imagining that a little partial shade will result in sterile soils with no soil biota, let alone no grass. The rancher gets some additional money. That doesn’t address the lack of cost-effectiveness for solar.

  114. Steve Schaper (11:15:42) :

    Wind turbines rotate at about 7 rpm. I timed them while driving by. The notion that they blenderize birds is nonsensical.

    These raptors disagree: click

  115. Every time I hear someone speak of a “fragile” ecology, I think, “Just means Nature punches reset frequently.”

  116. “”” Adam from Kansas (19:54:12) :
    They call it good for the Earth, but just look at how much space that plant would’ve taken, space animals like bighorn sheep and condors need.
    Here’s an idea BrightSource, put more money into getting ultra efficient solar panels to market, then generate your power in the urban areas instead of covering the whole desert with mirrors and displacing plant and animal life. “””
    Well somebody recently set an all time world record of about 41.6% conversion efficiency for a triple layer solar cell.
    Now you have to be careful, about what that means. If the application is for outer space (NASA) where weight costs money, then expensive triple layer cells might save a whole lot of money in launch payload costs. But that means they are also dealing with air mass zero solar spectrum, of 1366 W/m^2 roughly.
    But for use on earth, you are not going to be dealing with TSI; and only on the equator would you have near air mass one . For most US based applications you realistically have to look at AM 1.5-2.0 and not only are you dealing with less than 1000 W/m^2, but the spectrum is also corrupted from TSI spectra, so now you have to design a different triple layer cell, that what works best in outer space, to better match the earth surface spectrum.
    That would be very expensive proposition.
    Also high tech triple layer solar cells are typically used in optical collectors, so you don’t have to make such large areas of expensive materials.
    The optical collection strategies aren’t trivial either, and there are a number of non imaging concentrator optics that are often employed.
    The simplest imaging type optics, and the NI optics as well, usually don’t have uniform focal spots, so local heating hot spots can be a problem. Making the irradiance uniform can cost in maximum concentration ratios.
    So high tech Optical methods, are not likely to be low cost.
    Any biological solar conversion, such as plant growth, is even less efficient than artificial conversion; so bio energy sources, are even more space wasting than solar cells; not to mention the often punitive water costs of most bio processes.
    In the end, there’s no getting around the wide dispersion of solar energy, and the unavoidable costs of gathering the stuff up.
    I’m not in favor of going back to clambering around in trees to gather figs, just so we can eliminate fossil fuel energy.

  117. “”” Steve Schaper (11:15:42) :
    Wind turbines rotate at about 7 rpm. I timed them while driving by. The notion that they blenderize birds is nonsensical. “””
    So did you measure the rotor tip speed, to find out what mach number they run at.
    At just double the design wind speed, you get four times the loads on the tower, and rotor; while at half the wind speed, you just lost 87 1/2% of your total capacity. Wind turbines need almost 100% backup from conventional power sources; and nobody has figured out what to do with the excess during high wind speeds, and low usage.
    why not put a wind turbine on top of your house; your neighbors will love yoru thoughtfulness.

  118. “Wind turbines rotate at about 7 rpm. I timed them while driving by. The notion that they blenderize birds is nonsensical.”
    Steve, did you do the math?
    I am not a windmill engineer, but understand that rotors can be 300 feet diameter and need to travel 300xPi feet seven times per minute. I calculate a tip speed over 100 ft/sec. Sounds dangerous to me.
    Where am I wrong?
    Possibly you could also point out the ways that turning food into ethanol is not nonsensical

  119. Mr. Smith, one could get a rough estimate if one know what the blade length is. To the naked eye, the tips appear to move at roughly 40-50 mph, give or take a little. Fortunately birds automatically know how to land in branches and avoid other branches during a strong wind.
    I agree that the wind turbines are not useful as a base power supply. To provide peak load margin, to power ethanol distilleries, there I think they might be useful. They almost never stop.
    A house isn’t going to support a wind turbine. Do you have any idea how tall those things are?
    There aren’t neighbors for a quarter of a mile. Which is actually kind of close for around here.
    I have never, ever seen a bird or flock of birds fly through the rotor sweep ever. Wild birds aren’t typically stupid, and as I’ve noted, they have an instinct for this kind of thing. Raptors can do things like dive at 230 mph, and just catch a rodent off the ground without crashing. That is far tougher than avoiding a rotor blade.
    Mr. Shaw,
    a) we aren’t turning food into fuel.
    b) we no longer feed the world.
    c) we have massive amounts of excess grain.
    d) for 2009, Minnesota hoped to raise its conversion of excess corn into ethanol from 6% of the crop to 8% of the crop.
    e) After the fermentation process (we -are- talking whiskey here), a high-protein mash is the result. Probably better feed than it was prior to fermentation.
    No one, absolutely no one at all is starving due to ethanol production in the US.

  120. But the question is, why use ethanol at all?
    The 10/06 issue of Consumer Reports, which I still have, has a cover story on ethanol. Its conclusion: ethanol has less energy than gasoline, so it takes more to move a vehicle the same distance. IIRC, it takes about 1.5 gallons of ethanol to go the same distance as on 1 gallon of gasoline.
    That means that for every mile you drive using ethanol, your car puts 50% more emissions into the air. No getting around that.
    The most environmentally sound fuel is the most energy efficient fuel. Otherwise we could use a row of hamsters running in a wheel and call it green [Oops, I don’t want to give them any ideas…]
    Gasoline: The Green Fuel!
    And it doesn’t need MTBE.

  121. Windmills killing birds:
    From http://www.klimabedrag.dk/indlen/44-windmills-are-killing-our-birds
    “A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.
    Altamont’s turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon’s tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.
    The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies.”
    Steve,
    I have watched the huge windmills outside Atlantic city quite a number of times. They are generally idle since there is either too much or insufficient wind. My eyes are not calibrated to determine the tip speed but I think I can accurately calculate the tip speed given the rotar diameter and rpm. For the 300 ft diameter and your 7 rpm, I calculate 75 mph not the 45-50 mph you quote. Did I make a mistake somewhere?
    Smokey,
    You raise an excellent point. Bob Dole explained the ethanol mandate years ago when he noted that there are 21 farm states: therefore 42 senators to vote for it. No further explaination needed. Ethanol (for motor fuel) from corn makes zero sense since it takes as much energy to produce as it yields., Ethanol from sugar cane probably is justifable. To extend the life of Ethanol (and get votes for the outrageous Waxman/Malarkey bill), the latest bills in congress exempt ethanol although the EPA was supposed to consider the entire impact cycle.

  122. I have to say that putting the turbines in a mountain pass sounds like something that might result in a higher incidence of bird traffic than on the open prairie. On the open prairie a dead calm is an extremely rare thing.
    Sounds like the Altamont problem is due to bad location and obsolete technology that has nothing to do with the wind farms covering the upper midwest.

  123. Steve Schaper (18:13:12),
    Do you know why birds fly into windows? It’s because they’re not adapted to them. Windmills are worse, because they didn’t exist 15 – 20 years ago like they do now.
    Windmills killed these birds:
    click1
    click2
    click3
    click4
    click5
    click6
    click7
    Now, imagine if Exxon-Mobil had caused these birds to be chopped up. It would be like a small nuclear explosion in the blogosphere. The demands to stop the carnage would be deafening.
    But since it’s touchy-feely ‘green’ windmills, they get a free pass. Tough luck for the expendable eagles, hawks and owls. It’s all in a good cause, right? Not like some nasty old power plant that gives us cheap energy.
    Also, according to an Economist article, the newest, biggest windmills are so large that the blade speed must be tuned to keep the tips below the speed of sound. That’s a little faster than 40 – 50 MPH.

  124. The real issue here is the difference between conservationists and warmies. Being a bit of a conservationist myself, I see where these people are coming from. Destroying 5000 acres of wilderness to help save the world from a fictitous problem seems rather silly.
    That said, 5000 acres in a 25000 sq mile (16 000 000 acres) wilderness area is realy nothing. And lest face it, it is a desert.

  125. “”” Jeff in Ctown (08:58:14) :
    The real issue here is the difference between conservationists and warmies. Being a bit of a conservationist myself, I see where these people are coming from. Destroying 5000 acres of wilderness to help save the world from a fictitous problem seems rather silly.
    That said, 5000 acres in a 25000 sq mile (16 000 000 acres) wilderness area is realy nothing. And lest face it, it is a desert. “””
    So Jeff in Crown; what would you say to “investing” 2400 acres out of 19.2 million acres of desert; and all located where nobody in full possession of their faculties would ever want to set foot.
    It can be realized out of sight of anybody in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge up in Alaska.
    Have you ever been to ANWR; or do you know anybody who has ever been to ANWR; or perhaps you know somebody who knows of somebody who has been to ANWR. The most important fact to know about ANWR, is that there are 12 different places in ANWR where you can put the entire State of Delaware; from whence cometh our Vice President; without any overlap at all.

  126. “”” Steve Schaper (18:13:12),
    Do you know why birds fly into windows? It’s because they’re not adapted to them. Windmills are worse, because they didn’t exist 15 – 20 years ago like they do now.
    Windmills killed these birds “””
    Steve, the wind fan farm over in the East Bay of Northern California; so-called Altamont Pass, is one of the highest density habitats for Golden Eagles in the world.
    I doubt that any of the modern versions of installed fans run anywhere near Mach 1 tip speeds. Some of the bigger ones are 300 feet diameter, and at six seconds per rev which is about as fast as I have seen any going, that is about 1/7 of sound velocity. But they are plenty fast enough to destroy birds; remember that in order to extract energy from the winds, those blades have to create major disturbances of the air flow, and that is why the soaring birds get fouled up in them; and a whole farm of them makes the local air flows quite untenable.
    Besides those things are ugly beyond all belief; the thought that environmentally conscious people would tolerate either wind or PV farms in pristine areas is anathema to me. I have no problem with PV roofs in urban areas.

  127. “”” Steve Schaper (18:13:12) :
    Mr. Smith, one could get a rough estimate if one know what the blade length is. To the naked eye, the tips appear to move at roughly 40-50 mph, give or take a little. Fortunately birds automatically know how to land in branches and avoid other branches during a strong wind.
    I agree that the wind turbines are not useful as a base power supply. To provide peak load margin, to power ethanol distilleries, there I think they might be useful. They almost never stop.
    A house isn’t going to support a wind turbine. Do you have any idea how tall those things are? “””
    Well my house doen’t need any five megaWatts of electricity.
    A typical modern good size home may have a 200 Amp at 240 Volts (two phase) main breaker box. That is 48 kW full load peak capacity. How many people ever run 48 KW of electricity in their house ?
    So houses used to carry towers that supplied energy to the house; but those heavy towers were built on the ground so the house didn’t have to support the weight. They have generally been outlawed now; or at least you are allowed to have them but you can’t use them for anything but show and style; I think they are called chimneys; or something like that.
    So simply replace the chimney with a fan tower; my guess is that 10-15 KW is more than enough electricity to run your LED lighting, and your iPod.
    Most energy in the home is consumed in the form of heat; so natural gas is the way to go for that; it should be a Federal felony offence to consume electricity to generate heat or hot water in a HOUSE; that is a totally wasteful enterprise.

  128. George E. Smith (11:13:07) :
    “Most energy in the home is consumed in the form of heat; so natural gas is the way to go for that; it should be a Federal felony offence to consume electricity to generate heat or hot water in a HOUSE; that is a totally wasteful enterprise.”
    George, many country folk enjoy a good hot shower too. Natural gas utilities may be ubiquitous in the city but rare in the hills beyond. That’s the problem with federal regulations; the one-size-fits-all approach from congress rarely fits this old hillbilly.

  129. Well Maurice I wouldn’t want any hillbillies to not get a good hot shower. maybe if you manufacture some hooch up in them thar hills, you could make do without natural gas; well it would still be natural clean green renewable; but also drinkable; how about that ?

  130. This blog cites the wrong project as being canceled. The project that was slated for the Broadwell Dry Lake was the one abandoned — not Ivanpah.

  131. Considering what Gaians have done planting lynx and pictures of lynx, I’m skeptical about the birds. Windows are unlike anything in their experience. Wind charger rotors are like something they know – branches moving in the wind.
    If the complaints could be stuck with where they are being built these days, the upper midwestern prairie where the wind seldom dies down completely, would be more helpful than an obsolete installation in a poor location.
    Desert bighorn would likely not be on the flats like that. As others have noted, it would be -good- for the wildlife.
    ANWR was about payoff to the Indonesian oil magnate who contributed to the Clinton campaign.
    As to ugly, they are pure white. I do wish that they’d maybe paint the towers brown and the rotors green, like giant trees. 😉 But they aren’t always ugly. see http://www.flickr.com/photos/sschaper_iowa/
    Three blades moving that slowly sure don’t fit the word ‘fan’ very well.
    As to heat, and making it a felony, I take it you live in a southern clime. Many of us don’t. If your ideas were followed, millions of people would free to death.
    I don’t much care for your anti-rural bias, unless of course you were being sarcastic.

  132. I was in the solar energy business in the 70s and 80s. The idea that solar power can meet even a fraction of the electricity demand of ANY modern country is pure fantasy.
    There are two ways to harness solar power on the earth, and a different (and better) way to harness solar power in outer space. I’ll talk about how you can do it on earth.
    The first way is direct solar gain, also called solar thermal, another name is concentrating solar power (CSP). This approach is the most efficient because the solar energy is being used directly to heat a heat store like water, oil, or air. Electricity can be produced by concentrating the solar energy to create steam from water or other fluids. Cummings diesel tested the idea of using concentrated solar energy to drive a Stirling cycle engine directly, that project was a miserable failure.
    There have been several pretty serious R&D efforts on CSP going back over 100 years. Several demonstration projects have been built in the United States, Israel, Australia, India, and other places. All of these projects have the same conclusion. CSP is not currently ready for prime time. The actual results do not meet the theoretical expectations. The cost of the electricity produced is greater than other means of creating electricity.
    In order for CSP to become a viable technology, many more demonstration projects have to be built and the lessons learned have to be applied to the next generation of design. This will require billions of $ of R&D money. Currently the United States government does not provide such funding.
    There are several practical problems to large scale CSP adoption by the electrical power generation industry.
    First, these plants require a lot of land. Fortunately, the places that have the best solar gain tend to be barren desert.
    Second, these plants require a lot of water or some other fluid. Unfortunately, the places that have the best solar gain tend to be barren desert. The CSP operators get their water from OUR water table. But they don’t pay for it. OUCH.
    Third, these plants only work in areas that receive above a required threshold of solar gain. Locations like this are referred to as “hot spots”. There aren’t very many of these “hot spots” in the world. In the United States there is 1 in Florida, a handful in westernmost Texas, a handful in southern California, a handful in southernmost Utah and Colorado, and the rest are in New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. So, if you want to use this power where people actually live and work you need an efficient transmission grid. Unfortunately, the US does not have an efficient transmission grid.
    Fourth, the local governments almost always grant these plants tax exempt status for the property taxes for the land that the plants sit on. This means the local taxpayers are subsidizing the electricity cost.
    Fifth, the capital costs are quite high. The land cost is enormous. Most governments are giving the land that CSP plants sit on tax free status, so the electricity cost is being subsidized by the LOCAL taxpayers. The water used is not being given a cost factor because it is pumped out of the water table it is viewed as “free”. Tell that to the farmers in southern California. The cost of one of these plants is as much as 6 times a nuclear power plant and the produced electricity is up to 4 times as high. The cost figures that the green movement puts out for this technology come from fantasy land. They ignore huge cost factors like the tax subsidy, the water cost, the land cost, etc. They also use the RATED capacity for the equipment, not the INTERMITTENT PEAK capacity. Intermittent peak is the only capacity number that matters for variable technologies like solar and wind. The number that you really need to know is the cost per unit (Kwh) of electricity produced by the plant over its lifetime including the intermittent load factor, the life span of the facility, the initial capital costs including land, the value of the water, direct and indirect subsidies, decommissioning, and side effect costs. Rated capacity is meaningless. You can easily get the actual numbers for electricity production cost from one of the existing commercial CSP plants in the US, Israel, or Australia and compare that number to the fantasy land numbers the green movement puts out.
    CSP is cheap in theory but so far is very expensive in practice. Here are some cost figures which do NOT include subsidies, the true cost of the water, decommissioning, and side effect costs.
    Solar thermal may be cheap in theory, but — thus far — it’s expensive in practice:
    Andasol 1 (Spain) — 50 MW, 180 GW·h/yr (41% c.f.), €300 million; 14.6 €/W(average) =20.4 US$/Wa; “271 €/MW·h” =0.38 US$/kW·h
    http://social.csptoday.com/content/lower-cost-production-actually-product-andasol-1s-energy-storage
    Puertollano (Spain) — 50 MW, 100 GW·h/yr (23% c.f.), €200 million; 17.5 €/W(average) = 24.5 US$/W(average)
    http://www.iberdrolarenovables.es/wcren/corporativa/iberdrola?IDPAG=ENMODULOPRENSA&URLPAG=/gc/en/comunicacion/notasprensa/090508_NP_primera_termosolar.html
    Nevada Solar One — 75 MW, 134 GW·h/yr (20% c.f.), $266 million; 17.4 $/W(average)
    Martin (Florida) — 75 MW, 155 GW·h/yr (24% c.f.), $476 million; 27 $/W(average)

  133. Look on the bright side. The eco-wackos saved us from subsiding another solar facility that can never make enough power to pay for itself.

  134. Curiousgeorge (05:54:45) :
    YinYang. Everything from bacteria to people eats something else to survive and propagate. That’s the fundamental truth that many econuts cannot come to grips with. Life and the universe is messy and violent, and they just cannot deal with it.
    Hmm. Reminds me of “Disgustipated”, by Tool:
    And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber.
    And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself.
    And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest.
    And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil.
    One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear.
    And terror possesed me then.
    And I begged,
    “Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?”
    And the angel said unto me,
    “These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots!
    You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust.”
    And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared,
    “Hear me now, I have seen the light!
    They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul!
    Damn you!
    Let the rabbits wear glasses!
    Save our brothers!”
    Can I get an amen?
    Can I get a hallelujah?
    Thank you Jesus.
    [to the sound and rhythm of a rifle being loaded and shot repeatedly]
    This. is. necessary.
    Life. feeds on life. feeds on life. feeds on life. feeds on–
    This. is. necessary.
    This. is. necessary.
    Life. feeds on life. feeds on life. feeds on life. feeds on……..

    (repeats on itself over and over again)
    Steve Schaper:
    The notion that ethanol is turning food into fuel, and causing starvation is exceptionally nonsensical. Do you really want me to point out all of the ways?
    Okay. Interesting. Can we agree though that ethanol is not a good solution given that it requires more energy to create it than it produces? I think I’ve even heard that on a per unit basis it requires more gasoline to produce it than just using oil as the primary fuel source. Even energy analysts who are concerned about carbon emissions say that ethanol is a terrible solution, as it causes more CO2 to be emitted, again on a unit basis, than just using gasoline.
    George E. Smith:
    Besides those things are ugly beyond all belief; the thought that environmentally conscious people would tolerate either wind or PV farms in pristine areas is anathema to me. I have no problem with PV roofs in urban areas.
    You make a good point. The thing that makes no sense to me is the “greenies” insisting (nay, requiring) that we switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. True, CFLs use much less energy, but my memory of what environmentalism used to worry about is toxic pollution that affects our environment. Every CFL contains anywhere from 5-25mg of mercury in a dust/gaseous form. If you break one in your home you have a serious situation on your hands (where are the consumer safety advocates on this???). We worry about lead paint and asbestos in old buildings, and yet we’re supposed to tolerate this potential hazard? Something’s wrong with this picture. Secondly, even though recycling services are readily available for them, let’s be realistic. Most people are going to throw spent CFLs, unwrapped, in the trash, and they’ll go to the landfill. Is this anyone’s idea of an eco-friendly future? Not mine.
    It seems to me that the advocacy around solutions that you and I are talking about here wraps itself in the cloak of “green” when in fact it’s serving particular industrial interests, and has little to do with environmental protection. You gotta admire it. It’s one of the greatest PR campaigns in history.

  135. (sigh) This isn’t related to any of the discussion threads on here. Just thought I’d include this. I sometimes feel this way arguing with people about environmentalism’s priorities these days, especially that it’s become a fashion statement to some people…
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hPcPEeB_Ok&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]
    Ironically this was produced by “Current TV”, which was co-created by Al Gore.

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