FAIL: Ivanpah solar power plant not producing enough electricity, may be forced to close

ivanpah solar power plant

From the road to green hell is paved with good intentions (and dead birds) department and MarketWatch comes this unsurprising news:


 

A federally backed, $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert isn’t producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc. NRG, +0.79%   and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG, +0.02% GOOGL, +0.15% Google, uses more than 170,000 mirrors mounted to the ground to reflect sunlight to 450-foot-high towers topped by boilers that heat up to create steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity.

But the unconventional solar-thermal project, financed with $1.5 billion in federal loans, has riled environmentalists by killing thousands of birds, many of which are burned to death — and has so far failed to produce the expected power.

more here

295 thoughts on “FAIL: Ivanpah solar power plant not producing enough electricity, may be forced to close

      • If they put one of those windmill thingies on top, then the birds would be sliced and diced before they hit the focal point.
        Instant takeaway!

      • Ivanpah is a “rapid raptor roaster”, not a fryer. Much healthier, though not for the raptors.

      • Actually they ain’t fried; you need grease for frying.

        Basically those birds are sublimated; making an instant transformation to the vapor phase. It’s very efficient, and cleans up its own mess. Don’t even need a garbage can.

        And would somebody want to hazard a guess as to why the angel is not sitting right on the water tank, but hanging out there in space to the north of the tower.

        Scuse me sir; but do you have a focusing knob on this whimshurst machine ??

        The sun is supposed to be shining on the kettle not on some passing airliner !

        Lunacy: izzere a solar analog of lunacy ??

        G

      • Ctrl/alt/del/whatever.

        I guess the angel is really south of the teapot. Either that or the sun moved around to the north of the tower again. Kevin Trenberth should look into the crazy solar orbit, that this thing was built for.

        g

    • I think these mirrors are contributing to global warming. If they’re frying birds, imagine what it’s doing to the atmosphere.

      • george e. smith March 18, 2016 at 7:19 am
        Actually they ain’t fried; you need grease for frying.

        Well, then, how about nuggets? They taste enough like chicken right?

      • Oh yeah, let’s jump on the ‘global warning’ bandwagon….. get real, there’s no way in hell one little (in the big scheme of the whole wide world) solar plant could contribute to that….. you’ve been listening to the Nature Nazis too much…. get over it, and stay over it!

      • Well Mario, you are not listening.

        I think the birds are not available in nugget form; more like an aroma or boquet if you will (that’s a French word for “smell”).

        But I’ll grant you some original thought there, in that they may indeed smell just like fried chicken.

        Well rattlesnake does too, and there are enough rattlesnakes involved with this project.

        g

      • george e. smith March 21, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        “Well rattlesnake does too, and there are enough rattlesnakes involved with this project.”
        +++++
        I’ll have to add that Alligator thighs, when fried, taste like chicken too!

    • I did some looking only line. I did find a couple of manufacturers making Sterling engine. Between them, the largest, which that manufacture claims is the largest one made has an output of just 7.8 Killowatts, no where near what would be needed for a grid scale power plant.

      Demonstrate that it is even remotely possible to build a 1 megawatt or better Sterling engine and the entire electrical generation industry will beat down your door, particularly if you can prove that it is significantly more efficient than a steam turbine.

      If you are right, forget solar, it would be a significant improvement for coal, natural gas and nuclear plants.

      • MattS

        There is a thermoacoustics lab at Los Alamos. They have units well over 100 kW which are about 25 feet long and 1 foot in diameter. Using the same basic Stirling engine design program, which is free for download from their website, one can make refrigerators or generators using heat.

      • Crispin,

        From a grid perspective, 100 KW is nothing. Again, for grid level power production, you need megawatt level units.

      • Crispin,

        Do you have a link to that design program. I couldn’t find it on the Los Alamos National Laboratory web site.

    • The design includes large thermal reservoirs in order to be able to generate at night (even days when they need natural gas assist).

      Ivanpah has an electrical output of 126 MW. I don’t know much about acoustic thermal engines, but you’d have to convert heat to over 126 MW of sound in order for the acoustic Stirling engine to convert that energy into electricity.

      Seems a bit far fetched, what did you have in mind for them to do?

      • An error in my comment, Ivanpah doesn’t have the molten salt thermal reservoir I thought it did. The Crescent Dunes plants at Tonopah NV do.

      • “Ivanpah has an electrical output of 126 MW”

        Is that the annualized average continuous power? Or is that a design max? What’s the source of this number and how do we know it’s correct?

      • Ric, I think the orginal design did have thermal storage which would have made it more efficient and extended the power productions into the evening when it is most needed.

        I have been able to find anything about this in a quick search but IIRC this part of project was removed as a cost cutting exercise. Now they are finding out the cost of cost-cutting.

        They basically crippled it before it got off the ground.

      • Yes Tonopah is much cleverer by far than Ivanpah. But then look at the dummies that bellied up to the bar for this California green dream. But get used to it; Sunbeam Brown’s train to nowhere is probably programmed to run right through that location. But heck, if you are training from nowhere to nowhere else, why not go through nowhere special while you are at it.

        I predict that aliens from outer space, will one day dig up Ivanpah out of the sand, and all be scratching their heads (both of them) trying to figure out what such a confarnation like that would be used for.

        g

      • Talk about a cargo cult. They build a car but left the engine out to save weight. Much more efficient if you don’t have to carry an engine around.

        Oh you wanted to have wheels on this vehicle ! Why the hell would you need wheels if it doesn’t use an engine.

        Just park it down on third avenue, so someone can sleep in it.

        So Giggle Jebs builds a power plant without a fuel tank. What were they thinking. Could have built it much more cheaply if they left out all of those mirrors. Most of them are doing nothing anyhow.

        Come to think of it, if the left out the mirrors, they could have put up hundreds of towers in the same space, and just let the sun find all of them.

        See if you program the tower heights correctly, then none of those towers will cast a shadow on another tower’s tea kettle, so you don’t need either the mirrors or the steering mechanisms either.

        Reminds me of when I was a kid during WW-II, and my Grandfather took me to the Whenuapai aerodrome. I actually got to crawl around inside one of those ‘Hudson Bombers’. Well you see they were all fakes, kluged together out of plywood and other junk timber. Just sitting there parked on the runways, as if they were ready for takeoff. Well they also were only about 2/3rds real size. So the idea was that the Japanese reconnaissance planes if they flew over, would think their altimeters were all screwed up, because those planes down there look small.

        Well they would come down to the correct altitude so the planes looked right, and that would bring them within gunnery range better.

        Much cheaper if you have a bunch of Lockheed Hudsons with no engines. You can bomb the hell out of those till you run out of ordnance.

        I think we should dedicate Ivanpay to Al Gore and Jerry Brown. But flip all the mirrors over so they don’t scare the airlines. They could use it for navigation to check their GPS accuracy.

        Can you guys(als) believe we really are in the 21st century ??

        g

      • george e. smith March 18, 2016 at 8:00 am
        Can you guys(als) believe we really are in the 21st century ??
        g

        Gee, George – easily.
        Bigger and bolder deceptions all around us. Not better, because they’re blindingly obviously all 8ull-du5t.

        Same as the local [UK] watermelons, and their raptor-reducers.

        And their solar.
        This is England/Great Britain/UK.
        The southern part of London’s orbital motorway – the M25 – is about the same latitude as the southernmost part of Hudson Bay.
        At high summer, in the very south of England, the Sun is about 61 degrees above the horizon at local noon. In much of Scotland, in winter, it is about 12 degrees above the theoretical horizon; at Noon.
        Scotland has (non-transparent) mountains, too – and Ben Nevis is a metre taller this week than last!
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35837773 will explain.

        Auto

      • Thanks for the chart, Greg.

        https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/02/19/largest-solar-thermal-plant-completed-ivanpah

        If I did my math right, I total 525,000 megawatt-hours for the period, which is 10,800 hours, for an average continuous output of about 48 megawatts.

        NPR reported it as a 400-megawatt plant:

        http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/276857591/shine-on-world-s-largest-solar-plant-opens-in-nevada

        As a science teacher, I get tired of this kind of propaganda. Maybe it’s common to refer to these plants using the maximum possible design output. But the chart shows the best month was June 2014, at 64,000 megawatt-hours, for an average continuous output of 89 megawatts: less than a quarter of what NPR had reported it would be.

      • You sound like a teacher who gives a hoot.
        Suggestion ..

        Teach them that the lie runs faster than the truth and in fact, the whole purpose of the lie is to make your adversary waste time trying to defend it while the liar moves onto more delicious targets of desire.

      • Problem: Some people can get away with lies, because it’s for the Cause.
        Solution: Disregard everything people with a Cause (and followers who believe in the Cause so much they would allow people to get away with anything) say!

      • A 30,000 MWh month produces (at a wholesale cost of $70 / MWh, wholesale) – is $2 million per month, which won’t go far on a $2000 million mortgage and $2 million monthly worker bill + outside maintenance + natural gas costs.

        Likely with new tech the maintenance is wildly expensive.

    • Stirling Energy Systems (SES) had a tracking mirror design they were planning to scale up to utility size. The concept was a field of air cooled 25 KW Stirling engine at the focal point of a 2-axis tracking mirror. They had a pilot plant with several of these installed in Peoria, AZ. The design was modular in that each dish was self contained and they could come on line as they were being planted. The first utility scale farm was to be installed near Yuma, but the whole company folded when a federal judge issued an injunction on the basis that a local reservation was insufficiently consulted. This had the effect of destroying an entire power generation technology. IIRC, the engines were being made by McLaren in MI.

      • “This had the effect of destroying an entire power generation technology”

        I read someplace that they used hydrogen as a transfer medium? Leaking was/is an issue?

      • The nice thing about the SES design is that you can install a subset of the total project quickly, and determine if you are going to get enough output after all the units are in. There was no way to do that with the zillion mirror/one collector type of solar plant.

      • Mike March 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm
        “Ivanpah has an electrical output of 126 MW”

        Is that the annualized average continuous power? Or is that a design max? What’s the source of this number and how do we know it’s correct?
        +++++++++++++++
        Based on the production data, Greg provided on March 17, 2016 at 10:11 pm; I did a simple calculation on a spreadsheet to find the average output per hour. That is, on average it produced less than 50MWhr per hour throughout the year, with peak months close to 80MWhr/hr. So, it is conceivable that 126MW is peak output around noon when the sun shines the strongest. You get zero at night, I presume.

  1. Just another day in the Federally Funded State of Solindryca. Smile when you fill out your federal taxes, you extended billions of bucks in loans to this failure.

    • Of course What could the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators possibly mean other than more money and/or relaxation of requirements expectations.

  2. hahahaha
    cut off their natural gas and make ’em use photovoltaics to warm the boilers before they fold, please.
    put in another billion and you can really make the most awesome pun on ‘schadenfraude’

      • aw, come on, slowpoke
        you might have corrected my deliberate misspelling (that got my comment into moderation) to set me up for the rimshot, like a pal…

    • Both solar and wind energy generation projects have specially permitted “takes” – meaning they can kill ho-hum, listed, threatened or endangered species without being called to the carpet. I’ve found dead Bald and Golden Eagles, redtail hawks, vultures and numerous less interesting birds on the ground around wind turbines. Sadly, I had to leave them where I found them, Collecting even a single feather from one the eagles (or any other of the raptors) could lead to a $25,000 fine if you are not a member of a federally recognized tribe, though if you have a falconer’s permit you can actually take the live bird, but even then some badged idiot could still cite you if you retained feathers from the bird. In fact in the US by and large you can’t legally possess feathers of any native “migratory” species – even though the bird might be a member of a non-migratory local population. California for example has lots of Canadian geese that have taken up permanent residence. Apparently they regard all that flying as a waste of energy if they can just hangout instead. Introduced species (starlings, English sparrows, pheasants etc.) are fine.

      • Duster, I think you meant “Canada geese”, not Canadian geese. Just because they have the name Canada goose it doesn’t mean that they have Canadian citizenship.

      • The right kind of environmentalism: love of wildlife.

        “10,000 Miles” — Mary Chapin Carpenter (in “Fly Away Home”)

        (youtube)

        “Love does no harm to its neighbor.”
        {I do not equate animals with people, but, they are, in a very real sense, our “neighbor,” to be cared for with cool-headed discernment and with intelligent limits, but most of all, with love.}

        In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis describes animal pain as one of the hardest things to accept about “the way things are.” {quote from a fave movie, “Babe”} It is one thing to eat animals for food (I do). It is another to raise and or to kill them inhumanely.

        And how much worse, to kill them painfully and senselessly.

        Pain for no reason at all but to put money into the pockets of Big Wind and Big Solar must end.

      • The inforcment of these laws and not the elimination of DDT was why bird populations increased. — Eugene WR Gallun

      • I’ll have to check my fly tying kit to make sure I don’t have any Bald Eagle feathers. I think most of the feathers I have are just chickens from India.

        I know you aren’t allowed to have real Jungle Cock eyes on your Atlantic Salmon flies, unless you can prove (how) you had a legal cape before they became fully protected. I once knew a guy who had a complete Jungle Cock skin, but he couldn’t bring himself to take even one feather off it for a fly. Sure was beautiful though. Well they look really nice through the back end of my ersatz 1200 mm Nikon telephoto lens, if you can snap them before they duck into the bushes to escape the tiger.

        g

    • I’m sure that the local scavengers — vultures, crows, coyotes — are properly thankful for this elaborate free lunch counter and would like to see more, similar, plants constructed.

  3. How many coal fired stations, producing cheap reliable energy all day long, can be built for $2.2 billion?

    And how many birds would they kill?

    As always, ‘green energy’ makes so much sense to those who have no sense.

    • Coal plants used to be very cheap, with all the added antipollution filters, not so much.

      (Still cheaper than ecoloonacies, obviously).

    • Polk Power, a TECO plant, is undergoing a $1.2bb retrofit of 4 gas turbines into a combined cycle steam turbine and through this retrofit are going from being a peaking plant (mostly) to 1300megawatts BASE LOAD! Add a couple hundred million for new transmission lines and all told $1.5bb for 1300mw base load that will never not run.

      There is one example for you.

      • As an engineer, the combined cycle ng plants appeal to me with their 8K heat rates vs. the 12K heat rates of the old coal burners. With ng being as cheap as it is with no major increase in price visible, using ng is not all that bad. Of course, the economics of any of it can be perverted through government regulation, regurgitation and strangulation. The fiasco that was Central Maine Power and the wood cogen comes to mind.

      • ShrNfr,
        There are many “peaking” plants located across the country and as liberals work to reduce our base load capacities by decommissioning coal and nuclear this combined cycle steam plant rework is what we will see happening to cover the gaps

    • The advanced German Plant at Lunen built in 2008 delivers 750 MW of electricity and delivers district heating for the nearby town. The thermal efficiency is 46% and the cost was 1.4 billion euros. This is a power station built to some of the highest environmental standards in the world and is typical of the plants the Germans are building to provide the real power needed when the wind isn’t blowing. It was built by the municipal authorities to fill the gap in the affordable power market left by the Federal Government’s infatuation with rotating totem poles.

  4. Wouldn’t it be great to get free energy from the sun? Really? It would be fantastic. And perpetual motion machines too.

    I say, tally up all the costs endured by the tax payer in the name of the green movement.. 1 trillion? and send the bill the democrat party. I say make them pay.

    • Paul W – to be fair, we get / have obtained a lot of energy from the sun, whether we have solar panels or not (sorry, couldn’t resist). You’re absolutely right about the energy boondoggles, though. A big one in the US is Net Metering, which is nothing more than a handout to ‘green’ ‘businessmen’.

    • Paul we already get plenty of free energy from the sun. What we eat everyday originates from free sunlight.

  5. Economics have caught up with the plant:

    The project has also received an investment of $168 million from Google,[27] but in November 2011, Google announced that they would no longer invest in CSP due to the rapid price decline of photovoltaic systems, and stopped its research on the project.

    So PV panels are now a cheaper way to generate electricity. Oops.

    The plant also uses an untoward amount of natural gas.

    The plant requires burning natural gas each morning to get the plant started. The Wall Street Journal reported: “Instead of ramping up the plant each day before sunrise by burning one hour’s worth of natural gas to generate steam, Ivanpah needs more than four times that much.”

    Albatross much?

    • I’ve heard one reliable source, (a retired engineer from Bechtel), claim that the true cost of production from Ivanpah is $187 per mwH, compared to about $15-16 per mwH for natural gas.

      • From http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2015/12/15/nrg-ivanpah-faces-chance-of-default-PGE-contract :

        According to data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, PG&E paid an average of $197.33 per megawatt-hour for electricity from Ivanpah Unit 1 in the June-September period this year, and $201.99 for Unit 3 electricity. In contrast, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported this year that falling project costs had driven down prices in new photovoltaic power purchase agreements to around $50 per MWh.

        BTW, note it’s MWh:

        M for Mega (m of milli). Scale units bigger than k are all upper case.

        W for Watts. Units named after people are spelled in lower case, abbreviated in upper case.

        h for hour. There was no Sir Hour, so lower case.

      • Ric Werme says:
        March 17, 2016 at 3:26 pm

        … falling project costs had driven down prices in new photovoltaic power purchase agreements to around $50 per MWh.

        That’s 5 cents per kWh folks. If I can install PV on my property for anywhere near that, it’s a no-brainer.

    • Ontario makes a special effort to insure higher costs by posting a Keep Out sign with its domestic content laws for solar PV providers and bidders. India does the same.

      • A French company is building an 80 hectare solar PV installation over prime farmland near Napanee, Ontario. I complained about it, because they are farming subsidies, not food. Do you mean I was successful?

    • Here in Ontario there has been significant investment towards reducing CO2 emissions.
      It’s an interesting story. Shutting down coal (one third of base-load power), refurbishing old nukes, building new nukes, new gas plants and installing huge wind and solar parks.
      Since the plan’s implementation consumer’s electricity bills have doubled, double digit $billions spent and double digit $billions in new debt. IMHO all of it unnecessary.
      And nobody of influence is saying anything, if you are not on board with the man-made climate change narrative you are irrelevant.

    • According to a Toronto newspaper the Liberal government was originally (before July, 2010) paying some three thousand small solar electricity suppliers (10 kw – under the MicroFIT program) 80¢ per kwh, but lowered it after that date to JUST 58.8¢ per kwh. Ontario’s electricity prices have increased 70% over the last 10 years, and are scheduled (according to the government) to increase another 40% over the next 5 years. Approximately 56% of the rate increases, according to two successive Auditor Generals, is because of “Green” energy – wind and solar. Ontario used to have the least expensive electricity rates in Canada; now it has the most expensive. The province has lost around 300,000 manufacturing jobs over the last 10 years with higher electricity prices cited as the primary reason. Longtime Ontario residents including Kellogg, Heinz and Caterpillar have either left the province or have drastically downsized their operations. The much touted “Green” jobs (50,000 by one estimate) “surprisingly” never materialized. Meanwhile hundreds of families have been experiencing the ill health effects of wind turbines placed too near (550m) their homes, despite a recent study recommending at least a 2.5 km buffer.

      • “Ontario’s electricity prices have increased 70% over the last 10 years”

        Thanks. I’ve always figured rising rates that piss folks off will be one of the 2x4s to the head necessary to shake the collective cognitive dissonance.

        Is it working yet ?

      • If you’d like you can head to:

        http://reports.ieso.ca/public/GenOutputCapability/PUB_GenOutputCapability_20160317_v25.xml

        And see just how the “renewables” are doing.

        At 1PM yesterday (to be fair to solar…because we know the warmunists are always fair):

        NUCLEAR Total Capability 11,144
        NUCLEAR Total Output 11,048

        GAS Total Capability 8,548
        GAS Total Output 1,026

        HYDRO Total Capability 7,880
        HYDRO Total Output 3,775

        WIND Total Available Capacity 3,356
        WIND Total Forecast 2,795
        WIND Total Output 1,497

        SOLAR Total Available Capacity 194
        SOLAR Total Forecast 186
        SOLAR Total Output 191

        BIOFUEL Total Capability 200
        BIOFUEL Total Output 35

        That 191 just sticks out there, doesn’t it (for all the wrong reasons).

      • Not yet! Ontario electricity prices still have not awakened most of the public enough to do something about the situation.

      • Fine link Barbara. Thanks

        Although intuitive, it is good to be reminded that the poor get poorer as energy becomes more expensive. It’s a pity the word on this doesn’t get out more often.

        I suppose if kleptocrats were confronted with this fact, they’d counter by insisting on a selective tax of the upper incomes to offset the burden.

        Thanks again for the link.

      • Ontario Energy Board

        ‘Ontario Energy Support Program’, began January, 2016 for Low-income people.

        http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/Consumers

        Click on: “There’s help for low-income households”
        For more information on the program and the requirements to be met for participation in this program.

        Government help to pay electricity bills for low-income people.

      • Thus higher taxes to pay for subsidized programs for the poor who would have been less poor from the get go if their rates weren’t already paying for purposely chosen inefficient forms of energy generation.

        Kind of mind boggling.

    • I think the problem in Ontario extends well beyond its borders…lack of knowledge combined with manufactured consent.
      I live in Mississauga (a suburban Toronto neighborhood with city status) the home of a 2,000 megawatt scubber outfitted coal-fired power plant (Lakeview) shut down over ten years ago to demonstrate Ontario’s commitment in reducing CO2 emissions.
      In its place a new gas plant in Brampton (Goreway) and refurbished nukes at Pickering and Darlington would almost do the job without changing the climate (so the story goes). What we needed to fill the absence of base-load power were a couple of strategically placed “peaker” gas powered plants. No problem right? Think again.
      Although we fine folks in Ontario are well educated, we are not well versed in theoretical physics. Not many of us can describe the differences in molecular responses to short and long-wave IR. However, in spite of our gas fired furnaces, we are observant enough to know a local gas plant will reduce our property values….so there.

      What a joke.

  6. Based upon the photo with this story, maybe they should have positioned the mirrors so they pointed at the boiler.

  7. Assuming this thing does shut down, is anyone out there in the market for 170,000 mirrors, slightly used? I’ll bet they’ll be willing to sell them to you real cheap.

  8. Do you think it was a DARPA project to produce a death ray masqueraded as a failed green project?

  9. Well I object to it on optical design grounds in addition to all of the other negatives mentioned.

    A viewer from outer space, might conclude that earth’s orbit is weird in that in mid latitudes (California) the sun moves from the south of your location to the north of your location over the day, so it goes in a closed path around the central tower.

    Of course, it does no such thing. So the sun never gets north of the central tower.

    So what ??

    Well that means that sunlight coming from the south must reflect off those south side mirrors at a near grazing incidence angle, or put another way, the incoming beam is deflected by the mirror through an angle much less than 90 degrees.

    So the intercept area of those south side mirrors, is just a small fraction of the actual sheet area of the mirror. And the effective focal length is a maximum for those outer rim south mirrors, so they form the largest possible image area of the sun at the tower location, so the boiler on the tower only intercepts a fraction of the oversized beam which is formed by a grossly reduced effective mirror area.

    The damn thing is optically inefficient beyond all belief.

    There should be NO mirrors at all on the south side of the tower.

    They would be much better off with two towers, but all of the mirrors north of both towers. During the day, it might actually be more efficient to switch some mirrors from one tower to the other, depending on where the sun is.

    But it’s a crappy design no matter how you carve it.

    Roland Winston must have flames coming out of his ears every time he sees a picture of that optical monstrosity.

    Compared to this thing, the Solyndra laugher was an elegant optical design.

    G

    • Listen to an experienced designer, who just proved that arson is physically impossible.

    • Hmm, you are right. I hadn’t thought about how inefficient the mirror becomes as it moves south of the focal point. Its essentially the same as if you used smaller mirrors, each is reflecting less light as you move south. A far better design would be a slice of a circle (not even half). But to get the same amount of light many of the mirrors would be further away and you lose efficiency that way. I guess a better design is to use a set of solar towers instead of one… Even better, add more efficient gas fed boilers and remove the mirrors altogether, except for two so that you can still claim its a solar tower array… LOL

      I think you miss the main advantage though – its “pretty” – round and symmetrical so it makes prettier pictures on investment flyers to attract money. And to that degree it worked, so SOMEONE made a lot of money on this project, just not the tax payers.

      This kind of solar generator seems like a dead end to me. Google was right to stop funding it.

      • I agree it is a dead end – as a Californian, I even have to pay for it. But remember that in summer, the Sun can be almost overhead in southern California – just 12 degrees short of truly vertical. Mirrors to the south make a lot of sense.

    • “Well that means that sunlight coming from the south must reflect off those south side mirrors at a near grazing incidence angle, or put another way, the incoming beam is deflected by the mirror through an angle much less than 90 degrees.”

      Somewhat, Ivanpah is at 35 degrees North latitude. That means that the sun elevation angle varies from 78 degrees in June — pretty much straight overhead — to 32 degrees in December. Still considerable. And the mirrors on the North side don’t actually get any more sun than those on the South, they just “focus” a bit more tightly. It’s perhaps a bit surprising that the chose to build on a lakebed rather than a South facing embayment in one of the numerous mountain ranges in the region. But it’s probably more costly to install and service mirrors on a hillside than on a lakebed.

      You can see the facility quite clearly on Google Maps satellite view BTW

      • I think we’re looking at the design incorrectly. I have no problem assuming that the engineering is excellent. Problem is, even with great engineering, the project is still a very highly polished turd!

      • –Somewhat, Ivanpah is at 35 degrees North latitude. That means that the sun elevation angle varies from 78 degrees in June — pretty much straight overhead — to 32 degrees in December. —

        And 55 degree at the equinox.
        At noon and with 12 hours of daylight. Or from dawn 6 hours to reach 55 degrees and another 6 hours before sunset. To simply average it, rising and falling at 9.16 degree per hour.
        Or 3 hours from dawn or 3 hours before sunset the sun is 27.5 degree above the horizon. Or for 1/2 the year it’s below this, and other half of year it’s above 27.5 degree.
        Or at December Solstice it’s about 10 hours of daylight, rising or falling at 6.4 degree per hour- 2 hours before and after noon it’s below 20 degrees above horizon.
        As simple rule, one can assume that any at time the sun is not higher than 20 degrees above horizon, it’s not generating any electrical power. And if not higher than 30 degrees, it’s not generating much power.

        Or somewhere around now, the power plant might begin generate some electrical power and continue until the time of the fall equinox.

      • I never said anything about the solar insolation being different on the north side.
        I’ll give you a 12 degree solar zenith angle at the longest day of the year. But the outer radius of that mirror circle is many times the height of the boiler. A 12 deg. altitude of the boiler, would only consume a 2500 ft radius, less than a half mile. So the south side outer mirrors have at leasta 90 degree included angle from sun direction to tower direction so there’s a 70% mirror foreshortening right there. If you have an optical ray tracing program like I have, then you can set up the optics for Tonopah yourself, just like I have, and then you would be better able to comment on my assertions.

        G

        PS The world’s leading authority on non-imaging optics (NIO) which is a basic science of optical solar energy gathering ; Prof Roland Winston at UC Merced, probably does not know words in the English language to properly describe his opinion of the Ivanpah or Tonopah optical layout. Well he’s too nice a guy to use the words he does know.
        Efficient optical gathering of large amounts of solar radiation is a well developed technology and it is being used in many smaller scale applications around the world.

        These desert monstrosities are not among the better designs.

  10. “the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators.”

    Translation: “California taxpayers, BOHICA (bend over, here it comes again).”

    • yes both California and US Federal tax payers as well as all electrical customers in Cali bend over. Another political project that took everything but actual best engineering practices into consideration. Too bad the stupid is burning innocent birds and not the backers of this monstrosity. Wonder if the mirrors can be focused on moonbeam’s house from there…..

      Cheers,

      Joe

      • Electric customers elsewhere, too. The Socialist Republic of Kalifornia sucks a LOT of power out of its somewhat less Marxist neighbor States.

    • Maybe the good Kalifornians will donate more money, all you have to do is ask in the name of being green.

  11. It is seen all over and again and again. If you can get anything for free, there is no limit to the investments.
    Especially if it is not your own money, and you can look to care for the planet and peoble.
    In that way it is strange, that oil wells are not embraced the same way. They work equally, after the investment in the well it is free to pump up the oil.

  12. Interesting observation on solar farms – seems like to produce solar energy requires lots of other resources to be used. In the case of Ivanpah, it’s natural gas. From an article in the Orange County Register:

    “David Lamfrom, desert project manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, said information about the amount of natural gas used at Ivanpah shows that the plant is essentially a hybrid operation that requires both fossil fuel and sunshine to make electricity……

    It feels like a bait and switch,” Lamfrom said. “This project was held up as a model of innovation. We didn’t sign up for greener energy. We signed up for green energy.”

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/plant-688596-gas-energy.html

    On a related note, at another solar site, Crescent Dunes, the resource is water which is precious here in the west. Willis Eschenbach made the following post in September 2015 and discussed Crescent Dunes, noting that it uses 500,000 gallons of water per day.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/07/darcy-farrow/

  13. I’ve seen that layout from 30,000 ft on my way to ‘Frisco at least twice. Very impressive. Too bad the economics don’t work.

    On a different note, several years ago, probably about 20, I visited a solar powered house in Door County WI. It was built by a guy who was a free lance “Professional Engineer” Off the “Grid” and very impressive. He had a toilet that was like pooping into a bowl of cornflakes. But he told us that his electricity was quite a bit more than what he would have had to pay if he got it off the “Grid” AND he had to do regular maintenance.

    • Tom Murphy at UCSD has a lot of really interesting articles on his blog http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/ re his experiences with solar PV and currently with a plug-in hybrid. Highly recommended

      If there is one practical message that comes through loud and clear it is that BATTERIES SUCK.

      • Yes, college professors in California are stupid. Before spending more to save money, have some data to show that you will recoup the investment.

        As for being green, it is green washing marketing on the part of car companies. Hybrids are an interesting idea but there is no data to support the practical application.

  14. Another article on same (http://www.wsj.com/articles/ivanpah-solar-plant-may-be-forced-to-shut-down-1458170858) notes that although “[m]ore than 2,000 wild birds died at the Ivanpah plant between March and August of 2015,” “birds also fall prey to other renewable-energy projects: Wind turbines kill between 140,000 and 328,000 birds in the U.S. every year, according to a 2013 study by researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.” As megawatts of wind and solar capacity ramp up under the Clean Power Plan and state mandates, the avian death toll will as well.

    Climate activists retort that windows in residential buildings and house cats are still the largest “industrial” source of avian mortality in America. A misleading comparison. Nobody ever said windows and house cats are “green.” The relevant comparison is to coal, gas, and nuclear power plants, which typically don’t come equipped with lots of windows and cats.

    • For wind there is an easy solution: off-shore wind turbines. Nosy ornithologists will not be able to count carcasses.

      • I let my big tomcat out at night. Screw the birds, less cat food I have to buy. Besides it’s more natural that way.

    • Interesting bit of trivia. Researchers actually did go out and look for dead birds and bats when the first experimental wind turbines were rolled out. They even tried to determine if scavengers might be dragging the corpses off before they got there. Their conclusion: Not much of a problem. But those turbines were much smaller (and blade tip velocities were lower?) than today’s behemoths.

    • “Climate activists retort that windows in residential buildings and house cats are still the largest “industrial” source of avian mortality in America.”
      Well, add this to the lists of things that these big fat lying liars lie about.

      • My cat Orn’ry is scared of pigeons. If she saw an actual Eagle she’d never come out from under the bed again.

        Birds that are bigger then you count as modern dinosaurs. ^¿^

    • If only we could get the cats to run into windows. That would be like killing two birds with one stone!

      • If only? I assume you’re not a cat owner. I’m just glad mine’s never hit one hard enough to cracked it.

      • Engineers are responsible for the safety of the design.

        I have yet to see a solar project that is not a scam. If rate payers and tax payers want to pay more, we will provide an expensive but safe power plant.

        Producing power is a public service.

  15. Did somebody watch Sahara too many times? Looks like the plant in the movie…except the mirrors in the movie were actually angled to work!

  16. Uses mirrors to reflect light 450 feet up to boliers which make steam to generate electricity.
    Are you sure the company’s name isn’t Rube Goldberg power inc?
    Or maybe it was designed by The Coyote built with parts from ACME.
    How shocking it doesn’t work.

    • PS: From the blurb:

      Phase one of Morocco’s vast $9bn Ouarzazate solar power plant provides 160MW of its ultimate 580MW capacity.

      So, at a rough extrapolation, a HALF GW power station can cost around $30BILLION!!! Value for money in the Third World?

      • No, $9bn is for the complete 2GW system of which the current 160MW is stage1 of 4 (to get the 580MW for phase 1) out of the 4 phases (to add up to the 2GW total).
        Lots of information online if you google further

        It’s still a crock

      • Analitik: I was going by the Guardian’s article on it and nowhere does it mention 2GW capacity. But as you say, it’s still a crock.

  17. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty naturally has plenty of anti-Trump propaganda between the excerpts, but no wonder the CAGW establishment is against him:

    17 Mar: REFERL: Mike Eckel: Trump Catches Fire In Depressed Coal Region
    The coal industry is in decline and jobs are scarce, young people are moving away, and the man to whom people here in this Blue Ridge Mountain state are looking for answers is the unlikeliest of candidates: a flamboyant real-estate tycoon and reality-TV star from New York City named Donald Trump.
    “I would call it angry desperation. They’re mad and they’re angry and they’re also desperate for help and answers,” Mullins says…
    And it’s in working-class, mostly white places like here in Buchanan County, wedged between West Virginia and Kentucky, where his campaign for the White House has gained the greatest momentum…
    Trump walked away with nearly 70 percent of the Republican vote in the primary — trouncing second-place Florida Senator Marco Rubio (nearly 14 percent) and third-place Texas Senator Ted Cruz (nearly 12 percent) — his highest tally of any county in the country so far.
    The victory surprised some pundits. Trump hadn’t even campaigned in Buchanan County; the closest he came was on February 29 in Radford, Virginia, a three-hour drive to the east over a mountain road…
    The Trump campaign’s website suggests southwest Virginia has absorbed “the brunt of the failed and misguided government policies for years,” accusing Obama of waging an “outright war on coal [that] has uprooted and destroyed families and entire communities.”…
    http://www.rferl.org/content/us-election-trump-virginia-coal/27616741.html

  18. The sun doesn’t have the right friends so it needs to get out of the climate and climate emergency mitigation field.

    Has anyone shown you a certificate showing it has consensus to be involved in climate? No.

    Has the sun ever passed a paper through the pee-pee review system showing it understands the viability of solar power? No.

    Therefore we need to simply stop the sun from participating in the public discourse on climate. If the sun can’t admit,

    the basic science is sound,

    it doesn’t have any business darkening (pun intended) science with it’s contrarian, lone star so-called ‘belief’ it can’t produce enough energy to obey the contractual demands incurred once the science was settled.

    Anti climate science sunshine just makes me sick. It’s back to the dark ages for us all now.

    Why can’t the government prosecute such blatantly anti scientific behavior on the part of the sun?

    Thanks ”skeptical” movement – as if. You know the sun could do it. You paid it money from BIG OIL so it’ll keep us all shackled to awful fossil fuels.

    Try learning the science before making the decision to opt out of the universe having a future, SUNLIGHT.

    If you need a sarc off tag you’re the very person nobody wants to realize there’s need for one. It wouldn’t be funny if you didn’t think it’s real.

    • I would either agree with you or, more likely, disagree with you in no uncertain terms, but since your comment is impossible to decipher any meaning or intent from, does that mean I have to disagree with you in no certain terms?

  19. Solar “plants” or centralized facilities currently contribute .6 % of the energy mix. It’s like a rounding error when making these kind of very large assessments. There is a push to create more solar plants with federal and state money, for what I perceive to be one reason: stupid. They are not practical, they are expensive and finicky and the benefit is practically invisible.

    Individual solar installations on homeowner roofs maybe a different story, there is no clear picture of those total contributions that I could find, beyond the usual hyperbole of saving the planet and save money today!!!

    The saving money is highly suspect since direct subsidies, tax write-offs for these hugely expensive contraptions on peoples homes cloud the picture as to actual cost. Money is not saved just payed by someone else. As far as energy contribution to the grid, I can’t find a total energy assessment that includes personal individually installed solar. Not saying it ain’t out there, so if somebody knows…

      • A misleading report. Solar is insignificant. Loss of jobs to places like China is significant. When new regulations on coal plants increased the price of power, the aluminium plant closed down.

    • No. Alx, the reason is obvious to us all. Big money to Obama supporters, which includes many mainline businesses. They all make their money upfront or early in the process, have grants and loans that they don’t have to pay back If the project fails. Many projects have sweetheart contracts that force utilities to take their output even at highly inflated prices (often authorized by federal law.) It’s like the plot of “The Producers”, often they make more money if the project fails. Then they don’t have to account for any money, it’s just — gone. From the Treasury to their pockets.

  20. WOW!
    This is what happens when reality intrudes on “Green Dreams”.

    (Maybe instead of a song named “Purple Haze” we need one named “Green Haze”? Unreal, but some still like to listen to it.)

  21. A rare scam involving Google. But I wonder how the government should respond to the under-performance. The plant is there; why shut it down? Why can’t Feds seize it and run it – once they did run a bordello in Nevada, seized for a failure to pay taxes? How about fines for owners – Google, pardon Alphabet, is not exactly poor. Could this be the reason for Google creating Alphabet? How about a personal responsibility of public employees who signed this horrible contract?

    • The bordello went broke under federal management.
      The government could not even sell sex and booze at a profit.
      After that, nothing should surprise you.

      • I remember when the IRS took over the Mustang Ranch. They could not operate it successfully and after a barrage of late night jokes from Jay Leno and David Letterman, they shut down.

    • BTW, Google has asked the government to reimburse the $500 million or so that it (Google) paid toward the project. The administration is considering it, thereby ensuring that Google continues its recent tradition of “loaning” executive talent to Democrat presidential election campaign efforts (oh,sorry, they call it “taking a leave of absence”). Helps explain the oh-so-sophisticated voter outreach and manipulation of public opinion that this administration excels at.

      • Administrations have been perfecting the revolving door aspect of governance/special interests for quite some time now. Of course it’s bad and I’m not sure it will ever stop, but like most corrupting influences needs to be kept to dull roar. Both parties in the US, have their special friends. One would think alot of winking and nodding and turns at the tit take place and thus perhaps is accountable for why governance feels like a swinging pendulum.

        The wheels on the bus go round and round but is the bus going backward or forward.

  22. Commenters at other WUWT posts related to Ivanpah expressed concerns that the mirror array was in a “dry” lake, or at the downstream end of an alluvial fan subject to flash flooding. Not to worry. Computer modeling was used in the design process:
    http://www.westyost.com/project/ivanpah-solar-electric-generating-facility-stormwater-runoff-and-sediment-transport-analysis
    “With this model, we were able to show that construction of the mirror arrays would generate only a minimal change in the surface flooding flows over the alluvial fan. By eliminating construction of major flood control channels and detention basins that had been previously proposed by others, the environmental impacts of the project were greatly reduced and the overall project cost was reduced by $36 million.”

    \sarc if it rains.

    • Translation: They didn’t think the financial fraud would last that long anyway and neither did the regulators or those directing the regulators from the cloak rooms.

    • Having spent a bit of time wandering about in the Mojave, I shouldn’t think that altering the water flow during rainstorms (mostly occasional violent Summer thunderstorms). But washing out some mirror foundations might be a problem. And, of course, a really wet Winter might cause the lake to fill up. But surely the engineers allowed for that … Surely …

      • I reviewed “Alluvial Amnesia” here (free 2.8 MB download):
        http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/220
        “Alluvial Amnesia: How Officials Imperil Communities by Downplaying Flood Risks”
        I couldn’t find Shirley. But I found this in the summary on Page 3:
        “This report reveals how two recently opened public schools in Rancho Cucamonga were
        built in a floodplain despite warnings from state emergency managers that flood
        evacuation plans were not in place and that the entire area was potentially subject to
        flooding. Local officials ignored this unusual alert from the Governor’s Office of
        Emergency Services.”

        You’ve heard how climate scientists make temperatures disappear. Here is someone who made the disastrous 1969 flood disappear:
        “The Man Who Made a Flood Disappear (Page 26) describes how an academic
        exercise by a federal employee wiped away the official record of a deadly 1969
        flood, and how his work with the U.S. Geological Survey may have affected the
        work of engineers struggling to agree on whether it is safe to live near Deer
        Creek.”

  23. Anyone unconvinced of the boondoggle of most green projects need look no further than the continued existence of Tesla, which, for all its sales and hype, still has yet to turn a quarterly profit.

  24. They are facing CA’s new “cap and trade” law too for being over the limit on CO2 emissions from all the natural gas they are using. There is no evidence they are complying with the law, they are likely just paying the fines.

    http://www.pe.com/articles/plant-785436-carbon-ivanpah.html

    “It is not clear exactly how the Ivanpah plant complied with cap and trade rules. The paperwork that plant operators submitted to the state is considered confidential, Clegern said.”

    • I tried to find out what the deal was between Apple and Duke Energy at Maiden, NC. All I could find said, “Confidential.”

  25. has so far failed to produce the expected power

    There are two viable solutions to that nagging problem:
    1. lower expectations sufficiently OR
    2. install a diesel generator to meet them

    • Berényi Péter

      You got that right.

      How many Microsoft programmers does it take to change a light bulb?

      None!

      When the light bulb fails to perform as expected, they just rewrite the standard to “Dark”.

  26. I am absolutely convinced we should not let those 170,000 mirrors go to waste. And, I have a brilliant (probably only in my own mind) idea to put them to really good use.

    We could have Barack Obama stand in the middle of all of them and project his image out to the heavens. And, naturally, he would think it was an exercise in homage.

    But, unbeknownst to him, a warning to our galactic neighbors would accompany his interstellar image: ‘Please don’t do the same think to yourselves.’

  27. I’m sure California can pick up some extra electricity from Oregon, where we are in the process of banning all coal fired power. Since the goal of a “smart grid” would mix sources, I guess California and Oregon can go together on a west coast “dumb grid”.

  28. Ivanpah has been given another year. Whether the new deadline is based on hard economics or soft presidential election year politics was not announced.

  29. No worries. In time all of those darn birds will be out of the way and Ivanpah will get up to speed using that free and plentiful sun power. Just don’t look behind the curtain while they are making the “sausage”.

    • It’s those despicable birds that ruined the whole thing anyway. If we could have gotten rid of those things there would be enough sunlight for it to work.

      sciguy54
      March 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      No worries. In time all of those darn birds will be out of the way and Ivanpah will get up to speed using that free and plentiful sun power. Just don’t look behind the curtain while they are making the “sausage”.

  30. I wonder what percentage of state and federal investment funds were laundered back to the coffers of both political parties???

  31. Anytime you are experimenting with new technology you sometimes go down the wrong path that is the nature of the beast.
    From one of the best inventors of all time- Thomas Edison
    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    • this was not an experiment it was a scam and waste of tax payer money to enrich politically connected people.

      Cheers,

      Joe

    • ..LOL, Edison did not cost America 20 billion dollars to do his experiments, or cost 10,000 jobs !

    • Are you are saying this grid scale, base-load, is just an experiment? This technology is “sold” to us as a viable, carbon emission free, replacement for fossil fuel base power generation, and yet, it still has to use a fossil fuel to get it going. You are a laugh Luke and naieve!

  32. I have a 5 kW solar system only to try and save a few bucks and can I say after three years it’s a joke ,to start with we are only able to have a max of 20 panels which supposedly produce 250 watt ea .
    In the real world I have seen the total produced reach 4 kW only once ,to add to the misery the amount I get a credit on by producing for the grid is capped at a small amount giving me a credit of around $100 ea quarter .
    The rest is free for them but they then sell it back to me at almost 40 cents kW ,solar panels are not all that efficient unless they are in a lab under ideal conditions , in the real world you can expect to lose 25-33 percent effiency which is never told to anyone when buying a system .

    • Robert: As far as I can tell, solar domestic hot water is probably cost effective in most places where hard freezes aren’t an issue — the tropics, Northern Australia, SoCal, etc. Solar PV however only pencils out (maybe) where alternatives are outrageously costly — e.g Hawaii. Solar PV mongers aren’t likely to tell you or anyone else that.

      • Ahhh! Follow the white rabbit. Solar water heating USED to be the most cost effective method to “Go Green” prior to about 2008 when subsidies and net metering were initiated for PV. SWH benefitted from the subsidies too (as the units were still prohibitively expensive in freeze areas), however, net metering had the effect of changing the entire market. SWH is pretty much out of the marketplace now. PV has taken over. Net metering means that the utilities HAVE to purchase/credit your solar produced power at the time of the day when they don’t need it, for 3, 4 or more times the price than it costs them to produce. Then those same utilities HAVE to sell/debit that power back to you at peak times for no net charge, up to the point of break even when they have supplied you with everything that you supplied them. Meanwhile everyone else is paying for the line upkeep and subsidizing the PV owners so that the utilities can buy their power at retail rates. I just shake my head at the stupidity of it all.

      • A cartoon depicting the flow and cost/profit would be educational. Probably would add incoming energy from other states just to add how convoluted it becomes.

        Alas, I have no skills to do such a thing.

    • Solar systems are sold by enticing buyers with the idea of being self sufficient and selling energy back to the grid. This is exactly the wrong approach for solar. Use it to displace some of your individual base load. Up here in the north, we use ours to generate heat in the winter. In the summer we hook it up to a small water tank in series with the main water heater. (although next year it goes to a split ductless A/C unit). No expensive electronics necessary. Faster payback time.

      • As an offset to your baseload.
        Such a straightforward approach.
        Did you depend on a rebate for cost/benefit when you purchased the system ?

      • Using it as a baseload replacement eliminates many of the associated costs. In the winter we simply hook the wires from the panels across a resistive heating element. In our case, several 300 watt 120V incandescent light bulbs. No batteries needed. No charge controllers. No power inverters. Just 20$ worth of extension cord and light bulbs. 3 panels in series gives about 90 volts dc, so each bulb pumps 168 watts into the house. (90*90/120/120*300). The lower dc voltage means the bulbs will last for many years. Summer is the trick. Hot water is the easiest solution. Again a simple resistive heating element for preheating hot water. Gotta make sure you use the hot water though. So this year we spang for a charge controller and a pure sine wave inverter and some golf cart batteries. Not really very expensive, but now we’ll run a small A/C unit while the sun shines.
        It’ll take 15 years to pay me back for the entire system. And I bought the panels when they were close to 2.50 per watt. Much cheaper now.

      • Thanks for the informative reply. Stoopid question concerning PVS … do the solar panels have a known lifespan ? What parts are you likely to have to replace after 15 years.

        I appreciate the common sense approach and forthrite answers. 15 years is the most common answer I hear for payback and yes I realize there are several variables … 15 years is the most common.

  33. This is a power plant which will never produce any practical amount of power.
    This reminds me of something I saw recently. Let me look.
    Here it is:
    Advanced Weapons Tested For Destroyer That Will Never Destroy Anything

    WASHINGTON — Engineers at Naval Sea Systems Command are set to begin the next phase of their ongoing plan to test the effectiveness of emerging surface warfare technologies the Navy will never get to employ in actual combat this week, the Command announced.

    “For heaven’s sake, we don’t actually want to ever use these weapons systems in battle,” said head of NAVSEA, Vice Adm. William Hilarides. “If we abuse this technology we might accidentally win a war, and that’s just an irresponsible use of smart power.”

    Here is the whole thing:
    http://www.duffelblog.com/2015/02/test-advanced-weapons-destroyer-wont-destroy/

    When you can no longer tell the difference between satire and reality, it is not necessarily you who has the problem.

    • That just says they’re never get to employ those systems in actual combat [that] week. So either it will see eventual combat, or it’s a horribly structured sentence. Perhaps they should have said “This week, engineers at Naval Sea Systems Command…”

      But it’s all sarc anyway…

  34. With free heat for cooking and a ready supply of local birds to roast, perhaps they could turn it into something useful, like a fast food outlet. I’m sure there will be plenty of greens willing to eat crow pizza.

  35. Yet another Mel Brooks “Springtime for Hit… ” type Broadway flop. When will people figure out what is going on here?

  36. Just a slight issue that seems to elude the brilliant Wind and Solar folks…. Climate Changes so you build systems that Require the climate to remain constant because the climate is changing because of CO2 that you have to increase to manufacture the systems that require the climate not to change….

  37. Compare this $2.2 billion solarproject to the expected performance and costs of a Transatomic Power molten salt nuclear reactor and there are no govts that would ever go solar. The MSR costs roughly the same as this plant, which is claimed makes 175MW. The question, as always with renewable claims- when output? That 176MW figure is likely the max output at max solar radiance level – which occurs for a few minutes per day. Iwould hazard a guess that, evenwit the ability to displace power, the average output is likely less than 75MW. The MSL is generally considered a small modular reactor, inherently safe, capable of burning and more or less disposing of nuclear wastes as fuel. It is also capable of load following and
    probably costs roughly the same as Ivanpah, but can output 550MW of continuous power, 24/7/365
    The MSL is walk-away safe.can be refueled without shutdown and, in my opinion, has no competition as a power plant. Has a very long lifespan and will be the cheapest producer of power. Period. Expected to go commercial by 2020 – built in a factory, can be located practically anywhere – close to the end user. Very proliferation resistant.

    • “compare this $2.2 billion solarproject to the expected performance and costs of a Transatomic Power molten salt nuclear reactor”

      On the other hand, I don’t think even a Harvard MBA can blow a solar power plant up. I’m a bit skeptical that it is possible to design a nuclear plant that a highly educated modern manager can’t eventually turn into a disaster by cutting corners on maintenance, outsourcing, etc, etc, etc.

      • The solar panels collect sun and disperse the sun to a single point where that heats water to past boiling point. Steam is then routed to turbine where electricity is created.
        Have you ever seen one of these turbines? These turbines are large and spin very fast and yes they can explode. Even when powered by steam from solar panels….the turbine doesn’t know the difference between coal steam or solar steam.
        And, Ivanpah has diesel generators to heat the boilers in the early morning hours…..very capable of blowing up.

      • Don K

        Your warming about maintenance and cutting corners applies equally well to anything modern powered by steam. They are dangerous and vulnerable and require constant maintenance. Given the safety overkill for nukes, Thorium-fluoride is safe enough for us ordinary humans.

      • You forgot sabotage. Evidence that TMI was sabotaged is significant and rarely discussed.

        But as a society, we need to show more respect to people not endangered by radiations. We need to care about people dying of something else than a failure in a nuclear power plant.

        For example, it is said that a nuclear plant couldn’t cope with a possible (according to geology) quake. The power plant is designed for a major quake (*) plus a safety margin. But nothing else is. So in case of an extreme quake, no house would resist. People would die in buildings. But then, it’s apparently an acceptable outcome – cause no radiations.

        (*) largest estimated from history – and yes, estimating magnitude from intensity recorded in history books is difficult

        At the frontier of France with Germany, there is no quake safety rule for ordinary buildings. Many are made of bricks, known even by laymen as one of the weakest building method for lateral efforts resistance (after mud and horsesh.t walls).

        I can’t accept that.

      • Nor should you accept it. As you probably know, risk that is hoisted upon the individual is perceived as greater than the risk one chooses for themselves. Part of the whole art to moving a large group of individuals towards a common mission is to know this perception exists. It’s near impossible to address this perception unless you acknowledge it’s presense.

        We are an ever interesting species.

    • Every time I find a reference to this sort of thing, two thoughts pop into my mind. Can they actually produce what they are promoting, and secondly, will they be allowed to do so.

      Somehow I very much doubt they will ever actually be able to build one of these plants in North America, at least not till their is a serious shift in the leadership of our countries.

      One of their biggest problems. They haven’t allowed for pork barrel handouts. I imagine that would double the cost of the project, at least

  38. I wonder what sorts of kick backs PG&E and other backers got from the marine propulsion and engineering firms who sold a lot of the gear that went into this cluster____?

  39. Meanwhile in other news, PG&E are pursuing a photovoltaic version of this in the previously unspoilt Panoche Valley.

  40. It’s also a hazard to aircraft. The towers are “above the horizon” as viewed from the mirrors, so the project produces a blinding light.

    • “The towers are “above the horizon” as viewed from the mirrors, so the project produces a blinding light.”

      Hmmmm. Have to think about that. The mirror array “focuses” at the tower so at any substantial distance beyond the tower, the “beam” is spread way out both vertically and horizontally? Maybe it’s not much different from a pilot’s point of view than a body of water between the aircraft and the sun on a calm day with no ripples/waves on the water?

  41. 17 Mar: NYT: Raphael Minder: Once a Darling, Spanish Solar Company Abengoa Faces Reckoning
    Clean-energy technologies will play a crucial role as countries try to meet the ambitious targets set by the United Nations climate accord last December. But many of the technologies underpinning renewables are proving economically unsustainable in the short term, particularly with oil prices declining and governments reducing incentives.
    The financial reality is forcing companies globally to adjust. A big British utility, SSE, is rethinking its wind farms, as the country cuts subsidies. SolarCity and other American renewable companies left Nevada after the state withdrew its support of rooftop systems…
    Its fall from grace, said Valeriano Ruiz Hernandez, a retired professor at Seville University who taught many of the company’s engineers, is “a genuine hammer blow” for Spain and its renewable energy sector.
    “I always had the intuition that so much corporate ambition would end up bursting at the seams,” he said…READ ON
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/18/business/international/once-a-darling-spanish-solar-company-abengoa-faces-reckoning.html?_r=0

    • Here is a big problem with the failure of these alt-energy companies, besides the tax burden you did not quite feel (the frog in the pot phenomenon):

      Major branches of government and many governments were sold a story:
      1. man-made global warming is perilously real;
      2. the scope is so broad that it requires the buy-in of many of the planet’s nations (including your nation), and you MUST ACT NOW because things are perilously bad;
      3. there are international efforts underway to get nations to buy in to green energy as a solution, and also as role-model leaders for the private world, and also to boot-strap markets to some imagined self-sustaining level;
      4. hey, while all of this business is going on, why don’t you devote a portion of your government-employee pension fund to green corporations – you MUST ACT NOW to get in on the “ground floor” – as more nations commit to going green, the cost per share in these green companies will go up and you will lose out on the investment opportunity you have RIGHT NOW;
      5. Oh, by the way, my name is Al Gore, and along with being the planet’s authority on global warming, I also happen to have a side business: Generation Investment Management – we are an investment advising firm that helps VERY BIG investors – ONLY very big investors – to buy into green companies.

      —-Now, as green investments fail, government pensions are going to get hit big time.

      Think about it. For each and every government, and government agency, that buys into the idea and buys in with pension funds, there is a huge upside to acceptance of the man-made climate-warming scam being perceived as real, and a huge downside to skepticism.

      When BBC pensions depend on acceptance of man-made global warming, whether real or not, how will they cover the news?
      http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/156703/8bn-BBC-eco-bias

      I am not making this up. Click the link:
      http://www.iigcc.org/
      From their own home page:
      “IIGCC is a network of 120 members, including some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, who represent nearly €13 trillion in assets and take a pro-active approach to managing risks and opportunities related to climate change.

      Al Dork’s investment firm:
      https://www.generationim.com/
      They began a decade ago, and as of the end of 2015, they have 7.8 billion in assets under management. Great work if you can get it.
      Now, you know why Al Dork donates all proceeds of “An Inconvenient Truth” to charity – that is chump change for him. Green investment management is his real business.

      As government pensions get hit by the failure of green, there will be great difficulty meeting annual government budgets. Oh, wait – here in the United States. we have not had the federal government operate under a budget since 1997.

      Here is one of the entities doing the sales pitch…
      https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc

      All of this can be googled, except the idea I pose that government pensions have been seduced into investing by “ground floor” appeals, and that pensions will be hurting as these solar and wind projects do not mature to fruition.

  42. A failure like Spain’s. And they will likely find like all the wind farms that the developer sold the system to a builder for a significant profit (same owners, different entity) which is essentially dissolved after a bit of time, the builder then sold the operating contract to another entity made up of several smaller entities for a tidy profit which sells the power for what they can but make money over the depreciation period regardless of “profit”. As the depreciation cycle diminishes, the company declares bankruptcy and abandons the project and facility to the elements with no clean up.
    All executives and limited partners will have made huge sums. All will have made huge contributions to Democrat politicians and left wing front/environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club.

    • People – you have to review Pat Ch ‘s analysis – this is the game.

      It depends on you believing your democrats and republican legislators are sworn enemies, and on you being complacent with your comfy life.

  43. They have the optical design wrong anyway.

    There are two ways to get better solar through steam and pressure.
    You can have a lens that collects 8 feet of sunlight and focuses down it on metal pipes, this provides the thermal obviously but also, fantastically, it causes the metal to expand, which gives you power through thermal expansion, ie steam and pressure from the same sunlight, two sources.

    There would be no need for directing light upwards and killing birds, a convoluted design by idiots.

    If you had a field of these lenses and associated pipe work you create a solar heated and pressurized system none of which needs to be more than a few feet from the ground, a pressure system like this would also provide sufficient power to start off the system as this pressure can be stored overnight to at least retain wake-up power for the following day

    • Care to explain how you plan to generate power from expanding pipes ?
      As an old school piping engineer I am rather interested. While the forces generated by expanding
      pipes can be high this does not mean high power production. Heat a 1000 metre long piece of steel by 100 deg C and it will increase in length just 12 mm. That’s kind hard to turn into power.

      The reality is there is no point installing lenses not only would they need to track the sun they
      are fragile and expensive, Just paint the pipes black and they absorb heat. Better yet instead of using pipes use wide thin metal or plastic channels and whoopee doo you have just reinvented the solar powered water heater. I made one out of black plastic bags back in my camping days it worked pretty well even in Northern England.

      None of this circumvents the basic problems with solar power.

      1) The sun don’t shine at night
      2) The amount of solar power varies seasonally, especially at high latitudes
      3) Clouds drastically reduce output.

      This is why commercial solar power systems don’t work well in equatorial regions. They are dark 12 hours a day and they get a lot of rain and cloud. The best use of solar power is at residential and small business locations in desert regions in lower latitudes. Here daytime power use is high and they can make appreciable savings on your electricity bill. If I lived in Southern Spain , North Africa or Arizona I’d install one , in Northern England forget it.

      • I was seated next to a Georgia Tech grad student a year or two ago. Her research involved materials generating power through expansion and contraction. I don’t think steel is in that class, but there could be something to this.

      • I’ll start off by saying I am not an engineer so this would be the point at where an engineer would think about how this would be accomplished.

        Now you say 12mm on a 100m piece of steel, what other metal or allow could expand more?
        Another question, how much force would that expansion provide? How much pressure could it create, because if the pressure is applied to a steam containment system then it creates pressure in that system and therefor power.

        We are talking a network of steam lines with pressure being created across it.

        We are then talking pressure from expanding metal (or alloy) and energy from the sun creating the steam, which depends on how much light you can focus on the parts designed to hold water and turn it to steam with focused sun energy from special lenses you can indeed buy, they are expensive but you can get anything made cheaper in China tbh.

        Neither requires mirrors pointing up at a tower to fry birds.

        At a guess, I would try a good alloy that does not weaken at temperatures and can contain thousands of pounds of pressure. A pipe with a core rod with water in the gap, (no clue of dimensions here).

        Such a construction can also be fitted with bog standard solar panels too. Tripling up the sources.

        It would be interesting if any engineers on here could think on it, at least, am convinced this would work, the design is key and that is something outside of my field of expertise, I’m an IT engineer not a mechanical engineer ROFL, I am not a real engineer :)

      • The design of the network is probably the most important aspect, thermal expansion at various parts of the network is accumulated. The total pressure added is important compared to pressure at one point.

        With a pipe with a core rod in it, both will expand, which as you say wont be much but.. if the system is already pressurised by the focused sunlight turning water to steam, every mm of thermal expansion ups the power incrementally. This is pressure produced by thermal expansion by width expansion however small, it also doesn’t stop as a cloud passes as the pipe works won’t cool down drastically.

        Add to that the pipes would expand in length so how these is all connected together can harvest both width and length thermal expansion.

        Plus you get lots of hot water at very little cost, on a larger scale, this system could (guessing here) produce a energy and hot water.

        Fleshing this out in an engineering design, I am the wrong man for that.

  44. Earth day coming up, forget not to turn on all your lights, if you have not prepared your bonfire, with the required amount of old tires at least light your BBQ. Let us do it for GAIA.

  45. So they modelled a power generation capacity and came up with the wrong numbers. Quelle surprise.

  46. But they could build a weather station at one of the towers to bust the pause once and for all. That must be worth more than $2.2 billion.

  47. wow thousands of birds !!!! thousands sure is a big number !!! Is it at all significant ? I doubt it I am surprised no one here mentioned the insignificance of that number
    There are maybe 20 BILLION birds in the USA

    • john – you are right that an unanchored appeal to a big number of birds killed is kind of emotional but meaningless. Comparing the killed birds to their total US presence is kind of emotional but meaningless as well. If all power in the US was as hard on the birds as Ivanpah assuming killing 1000/year, then power production would kill well over 1/4 of the 20 BILLION birds in the USA. If it’s over a couple thousand that’s more than half.

    • And all the regulators and the PG&E people and the Ivanpah people needed to do was…….read your cleantechnica article!?!?!

      They could have saved a ton of money and time. Why didn’t you let them know?

  48. Since this plant had huge fixed costs that can not be recovered and should be ignored as “sunk costs” in relation to decisions on the further operation of the plant – it should be rightfully identified as a colossal screw up if the plant can not produce enough to just offset it’s ongoing incremental costs. Even if it were just a seriously bad decision, looking forward ignoring sunk costs, this plant SHOULD look wonderful and should be mistakenly touted as wonderful by all on the green fringe.

  49. State of the art solar power plant failing even when it’s located slap-bang in the middle of a scorching desert? Says all you need to know about the complete fantasy of ‘renewables’.

  50. The following text and numbers show how the planned-for performance, capital and operational expenses and earnings at Ivanpah compare with another electricity producing plant. The predicted Capacity Factor of 31 % indicates a 120 MW expected actual average output from this CSP plant. That is the number we shall work with for simplicity disregarding that 8 % of that electricity comes from gas, not sun.
    The 2200 M$ price per those 120 MW represents 18 $/W investment. By way of comparison, another nonpolluting source of electricity, nuclear power plant, the Millstone reactor No. 2 in Connecticut, operating at 880 MW since 1975, cost 0.5 $/W then; Ivanpah is thus 36 times more expensive (inflation excluded).
    With about 1000 employees receiving salary and benefits, the annual outlay for that alone is roughly 100 M$. Selling the annual 3.8 EJ at the projected 0.028 $/MJ yields 106 M$. Ouch – only 6 M$ left for other expenses, notably for natural gas whose burning produces 8 % or more of the total output. For comparison again, the Millstone nuclear plant complex employs also about 1000, and its two reactors have been producing 1870 MW actual electrical output. Assuming the same salaries, benefits, and the electricity selling price, the operating expense is 15 times higher at Ivanpah.
    Note that the above two outlays are 35 and 15 times higher (not percent higher), and that this huge discrepancy exists in an industry where a difference of a few percent means the difference between success and bankruptcy. The magnitude of the discrepancy hints also at the reason why the “free” solar electricity is so expensive.*
    As for the occupied land comparison, those 120 MW spread over 13 km2 represents 9.2 W/m2. In contrast, ground based nuclear plants produce some 2000 W/m2 thus utilizing the land area some 200 times more effectively. And they can be erected in any climate and in proximity to users.
    If the purpose of the CSPs is to cut CO2 emissions, that expectation is unrealistic. The construction, operating, maintaining and eventually dismantling this plant will at best match the amount of CO2 claimed to be saved in non-burning fossil-fuels for that relatively small amount of electricity. And producing intermittent electricity causes CO2 generation elsewhere.
    And there are other items to consider with respect to the net output and CO2. It was not apparent from the description whether the electric output was measured at the outlet from the generators (or transformers) or whether it was that output minus the electrical demand on the grid for electricity consumed from dusk to dawn in the plant, such as for lighting, air-conditioning, washing mirrors, water pumping, restarting machinery, etc. The plant also burns gasoline, diesel fuel and, prodigiously, natural gas as said in the email. These considerations should be included in the performance data for the net electricity delivered and CO2 saved. Perhaps they will be available someday.
    Concerning the DOE covering the invested billions, it was not just tax- and rate-payers who paid. Google, among others, invested millions from its “green” fund, the same Google that abandoned its own PV solar facility and related R&D last year (2014).**
    *In the summer of 2015 the wholesale price was 2.0 cents per kWh in New England, a region with the highest rate in the US at this time. And those two cents cover also taxes, debt-servicing, dividend payments, etc. and provide profit.
    ** http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/google-engineers-explain-why-they-stopped-rd-in-renewable-energy
    Stan Jakuba

    • Good information. Since most of the large scale “strange new idea” renewable projects like Google’s have a curious drawn out pattern to shutdown, what we really need to see is the cost-to-taxpayers ticker tape for this behavior. Vinod Khosla and others were up to the same grant and loan money laundering operations then. Also, it’s important to note what else Google was up to during these years. It was hosting large fundraisers for the Climate Change President while also seeking delays to any legislation that would halt its zero tax rate on foreign earnings transfer operations out of the EU market. I rather doubt that the internal thought pattern and set of related actions at Google will ever come out for public viewing. We do need a permanent wikileaks operation assigned to Climate Change though for agencies, companies, and nonprofits.

    • How many personnel does it take to manage a 500 MW utility scale solar PV plant? I visited a 35 MW PV site in NM and it had two, well one that I could find to talk to and two vehicles there.
      Some large scale examples follow.
      Topaz, CA 550 MW
      Desert Sunlight, CA 550 MW
      Agua Caliente, AZ 290 MW

      Also, if you’re going to get into land comparison then you need to account for coal ash storage and nuclear waste isolation provisions.

      • A 720 MW natural gas combined cycle plant in New Hampshire employed 19 people, IIRC. That included office personnel, janitor, etc.

        A 66 MW wind project (about 22 MW average output) employees some 2.5 fulltime people. A lot of the normal maintenance is replacing the Mobil-1 transmission oil a few times a year, maintenance costs should go up substantially during the project’s lifetime.

    • Birds don’t belong in the desert. They need to congregate in chosen centers with other birds so as to reduce their carbon footprint.

      These birds are deniers and so either need to be reeducated or suffer the consequences of their non sustainable lifestyles.

  51. My last power bill ranged from $0.05 a KWH to about $0.055 a KWH. With line charges taxes and everything it worked out to $0.14.1 a KWH. All generated by coal. Germany, the leader in alternative energy scams, they pay $0.35 a KWH. Denmark is worse at $0.41 a KWH.

  52. If they could sell these garage door sized mirrors for $12,941 each, they could recoup the cost of the plant. Be the first in your neighborhood with a giant mirrored garage door. Very unusual and will increase the market value of your home.

    • Until some motorist is dazzled by the glare, crashes and sues you for a million dollars.

    • For you Google Earth people, the view location is: 35°33’24.91″ N 115°28’14.59″ W
      You can zoom in to see each individual “garage door” mirror. And you can also see how much space this takes up in the desert. How many conventional power plants, or oil wells could this amount of space allow?

  53. Why not send out letters to ratepayers and taxpayers in California asking for donations to a fund to provide for early shutdown of Ivanpah. It would help save the children….and the birds…..and taxpayers.

  54. The chickens are coming home to roost in faraway places it seems-
    http://joannenova.com.au/2016/03/oil-giant-venezula-green-giant-tasmania-both-running-out-of-electricity/
    Here in Oz the mendicant island State of Tasmania is full of Green daydreamers and that have been subsidized by the rest of the country for years and now they’re having to painfully resort to emergency diesel power for their blind ignorance and stupidity-
    http://themarcusreview.com/2016/03/16/tasmanias-energy-scandal/
    The only question being will they learn from the hard lesson and wake up permanently from their Green wet dreams?

    • How are the grand CSP solar projects doing in Australia? Those came alongside expansion of solar PV as if to ignore the cost differences between the too even then.

  55. Is Ivanpah a banned word among green energy advocacy groups and their legislators, like say Voldemort? If so, there may be cloak room attempts to keep Ivanpah off the radar screen as long as possible and thereby extend the taxpayer losses.

  56. http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/the-top-five-things#.VHYo574XtDI
    “The Top Five Things Some Media Can’t Seem to Remember About Ivanpah”

    4) We Don’t Control the Weather – Weather is variable, and the weather this year at Ivanpah has generally been substantially worse than projected on a historical average basis, resulting in reduced output for certain months. In fact, the amount of sun for 2014 has been about 9% below predicted and wind events were more frequent than that predicted by the historical data…

    5) Natural Gas is Used to Maximize Renewable Energy Generation in Accordance with State Law – During the startup and commissioning process, the plant operators have increased their understanding of plant operations, including the prudent use of natural gas for safe and reliable operation of the solar receiver and steam turbine.

  57. I have a bad picture of the site from my passing airplane, we were well off but it was still quite bright from the air. Very much having a person shine sunlight by mirror into your face. I always love the irony that we are being accused of the mass extinction of the bird population and somehow a massive bird cooker or chopper (windmill) is somehow a cool. But maybe with its failure they wont have to kill off all of those desert species to rape huge tracts of land for these monstrosities.

  58. There are studies that show bird deaths from different sources of power generation. It is probably worth a search.

  59. Looking at this enormous solar energy complex, the gigantic soil destroying wind mill farms, all I see is enormous environmental destruction. This green energy baloney is an environmental disaster.

  60. Too bad for the anti-greens: the California PUC has approved the modification of the contract. Ivanpah lives on!

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