# Failing Ivanpah solar power plant gets temporary repreive, but is producing 'prohibitively expensive' electricity

Last week we reported that the Ivanpah solar power plant might be forced to close if it didn’t get a break from the California Public Utilities Commission. According to this article in the Press Enterprise, it got the break:

California electric utility regulators on Thursday, March 17, approved a deal between Pacific Gas & Electric and the owners of Ivanpah solar plant that gives plant operators more time to increase electricity production.

The plant’s owners have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum in exchange for getting time to improve the plant’s electricity output. The deal followed realizations that the plant is failing to meet its production obligations to the utility.

In return, PG&E won’t declare that its power purchase agreement with the plant owners is in default.

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the deal during a meeting in San Francisco – despite objections by the Office of Ratepayer Advocates over concerns about the cost of electricity from the plant.

The deal, called a forbearance agreement, sets a July 31 deadline for the plant get its production up, and has a mechanism to extend that deadline by an additional six months, according to a CPUC report.

Last year, its second year of operations, the plant produced 624,500 megawatt hours of solar power, according to numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is about two-thirds of its annual production goal that was made public by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Remember that number when the other third is added ~ 1,000,000 MWh
Elevated from a comment by Peter Lang at Dr. Judith Curry’s website, with some graphics inserted by me from the references cited, this set of calculations from the readily available information about Ivanpah suggests that it could never be profitable.

Peter Lang

Ivanpah, will cost about \$19/W of average power delivered (data from their presentation below)

Nameplate capacity = 370 MW.

Expected average energy generation per year = 1,000,000 MWh.

This means average power output is 114 MW (about 1/10th of a new nuclear plant).

Capacity factor is 31%.

Cost = US \$2.2 billion = \$19/Watt average power delivered.

This is around 3x the cost of some recent nuclear power plant builds that most environmentalists have accused of being prohibitively expensive.

The heliostats used in the project weigh in at 30,000 tonnes. That’s 262 tons of heliostats per MW electric average. That’s just for the heliostats, not even the foundations, not to mention the tower and power block.

The power plant area that had to be bulldozed over is 20x larger than a nuclear reactor of equivalent average (real) capacity.

Lastly, nuclear is safer than any other electricity generation technology, including wind and solar:

That’s a huge waste of money. All that money we are wasting damages our economy, people’s standard of living and people’s wellbeing.

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Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 7:44 am

“The plant’s owners have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum in exchange for getting time to improve the plant’s electricity output.”
Does this mean they are going to install diesel generators to increase the output, like in the UK?

Harry Passfield
Reply to  Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 8:34 am

Beat me to it, Moose. What are the ethics of selling someone a product that is produced in the same way as any other generating company but at three times the price? Or will Ivanpah price the power they sell based on the source of generation?

CaligulaJones
March 21, 2016 11:15 am

“What are the ethics”
You dare mention ethics when Big Green is involved?
Just keep repeating “Its all for the Great Good”. If you do it enough times, its almost a mantra.
Too bad they can’t just charge the Leonard di Caprios of the world more. Some sort of hypocrisy filter or something.

george e. smith
March 21, 2016 12:58 pm

If I’m not mistaken, Ivanpah still requires natural gas start up in the mornings otherwise too much of the early sunshine gets wasted just getting the steam pressure and temperature up to the normal operational level that can be sustained by solar energy alone.
I hope that contractual output MWhr requirement, is net of natural gas startup consumption.
Ivanpah should be a textbook demonstrator model for renewable energy, by fencing it off to exclude introduction of any energy resources from ANY source, other than what comes down from the sky.
I’m still in favor of replacing those mirror arrays, with stationary bicycles, which will save an enormous weight of materials, and hire hourly laborers to peddle the bikes to produce green electricity.
The average power density of the Ivanpah site, makes even the sun look like a high density power source for earth, as in watt per square meter of site included land area.
Maybe they could replace that circle of mirrors, with a bunch of mobile radial spoke “oars” turning a large low speed alternator , and powered by shackled wild horses, which the south west is supposedly overrun with.
Meanwhile I also protest the PUC for continuing to tolerate PG&E’s insistence on trying to market such boondoggle energy to unsuspecting consumers like me.
g

March 21, 2016 5:12 pm

George e smith…as I understand it the Natural Gas Generator runs all night long on the principle that keeping the generator running is way more efficient than not. So you end up with a solar assisted Natural gas facility basically. I find it intriguing that anybody can keep a straight face while negotiating an agreement to pay the middleman to the end user out of capital for the project and pretend that they had any competence at all when they were presenting their business model to investors. It’s basically declaring that if the guys delivering your product to the end user go anywhere else to makeup the shortfall that you created you will be out of business and the whole affair will collapse into bankruptcy, recrimination and lawsuits. Of course the only important issue in their minds is if they are to big or important to fail. In which case the State will step in as the lender of last resort and bonuses will be paid all around!

DonM
Reply to  Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 9:04 am

They already have gas… the solution to the failure (that they knew about from the beginning) was built into the design.

schitzree
Reply to  Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 9:18 am

They don’t need to install diesel generators. They just need to run the natural gas powered ‘start up’ system that is already installed to get the main power loop up and running each morning before the sun rises. They’re already having to run it each morning for 2 or 3 extra hours over what they were expecting to need. What they will start doing is just running it all night long. Heck, if the steam power loop is at least close to as efficient as a standard gas power plant they could even still come in under the average daily CO2 per MW/h level of a regular gas power plant.
Sure, it’ll have cost way more then that gas power plant, but cost never figures in when building for the brave new world. The Greens can declare victory and head home, pockets bulging with climate cash.

oeman50
March 21, 2016 10:31 am

That plant running on natural gas might be almost as efficient as a regular gas fired boiler, but is is about half as efficient as a modern combined-cycle gas turbine.

Keith Willshaw
March 21, 2016 4:06 pm

Trouble is the boiler loop is nowhere near the efficiency of a combined cycle gas power plant. They would actually get more cost efficient power just using the gas in a modern gas turbine installation. They started out licensed to produce just 5% of the thermal energy using gas, they are now up to 25%. Note that gas used at night is NOT counted as part of this percentage. They are not only burning gas at startup at dawn but during the day when its cloudy and gas boilers preheat the feed water. In a modern gas plant the exhaust gases from the turbine do that AND drive a steam turbine.
Ivanpah is NOT a solar power plant its a very expensive hybrid plant.

simple-touriste
March 21, 2016 10:25 pm

The whole Union of Concerned Scientivists “renewable energy” thing is a scheme to combine a lot of gas with some solar and wind, as a decorum.
Like the banks and finance services who made a mix-mash of a good and (mostly) bad debt titles.
What could go wrong?
What could go more wrong than with the finance system?

TG
Reply to  Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 1:38 pm

Does this mean they are going to install diesel generators to increase the output, like in the UK?
Moose, don’t forget this also happened in Spain, a large solar farm was producing and billing for mega cost electricity 24 hrs a day thanks to diesel generators and the usual gang of climate corrupted mafia. Until Spain ran out of other peoples money.

PaulH
Reply to  Moose from the EU
March 21, 2016 2:08 pm

Well, you know what they say: time is undisclosed money.

Dodgy geezer
March 21, 2016 7:47 am

So what? You can’t measure a sacrifice to Gaia in terms of mere money…

Aaron
March 21, 2016 11:51 am

See that’s what I’m talkin’ about, let’s burn a few more birds, and get some M.A.G.i.C. Gassin, goin’ ON! Gaia can DO it!
We’ll throw rocks at our grandma’s retirement fund guy till he throws grandma’s Satan Fire Coal stocks into the street!
Sometimes all it takes is a man of SIGNTS – like you Dodgy, to put some CLARITY to the thing!

Dodgy geezer
March 21, 2016 at 7:47 am
So what? You can’t measure a sacrifice to Gaia in terms of mere money…

”You can’t measure a sacrifice to Gaia in terms of mere money”
I’m getting that tattooed on my arm in – what else? Gailic!
LoL

tomwys1
March 21, 2016 7:57 am

Keep in mind that the area chosen is subject to annual monsoon cloudiness!
I guess that is a reprieve for the Golden Eagle roasts!

John Silver
March 21, 2016 1:08 pm

What do they taste like?

stan stendera
March 21, 2016 4:33 pm

Gall.

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 7:57 am

Go for the VW fix.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 8:02 am

This is SUCH a big waste of taxpayers’ money that PG&E is liable for malfeasance in not getting out of their contract with BLATANTLY defaulting Ivanpah. There is NO REALISTIC CHANCE OF CURE.
PG&E idiotically keeps trying to rehabilitate and nurse along the old Ivanpah 4 cylinder wimpmobile while they (the federal govt., actually) keep locked in the garage the powerful dual quad V8 nuclear power industry.
Either they:
1. WANT the U.S. economy to fail (thus, intentional, thus = malfeasors)
OR
2. They are incompetent.
GO, NUCLEAR POWER!

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 8:05 am

PG&E got the same call from the WH that DoE did. Delay, delay, delay no matter what the cost is.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 5:12 pm

Resource guy
Yea. PG&E did such a good job of protecting shareholders (and ratepayers) the last time their CA-stste-regulated butt went bankrupt. One thing PG&E does have a lot of is empty suits.
/s (well, not the empty suit part)

March 21, 2016 8:43 am

How is it possible that the owners of that bird fryer that hasn’t made a dime yet and never will get the money to extend this joke? As others have said until alternative power can be produced at a reasonable rate we will need to use fossil fuels which we will not stop anyway because of the byproducts we all completely rely on. We need a crash program to finish and start new nuclear power as soon as possible.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:07 am

Hi, Asybot:
It’s the Big Solar Enivroprofiteers who pull the puppet strings of the happy-to-serve-you Envirostalinists in Sacramento and in D.C., mainly. They’re willing to pay back “an undisclosed [amount]” of their bilked-from-the-taxpayer-and-reliable-power-customer-rate-surcharge funds to preserve their sc@m.
It’s sickening.
And in the meantime, the senseless pain of the animals with no choice goes on.

ripshin
Editor
March 21, 2016 11:12 am

I agree…there’s no real chance to cure, regardless of whether they still have some contractual right to try. Clearly this is being driven by politics, at the expense of the PG&E shareholders AND ratepayers.
rip

george e. smith
March 21, 2016 3:48 pm

Well the addition of a Tonopah like molten salt thermal storage, would by its very nature increase the consumption of natural gas to melt the salts, which requires much more energy than boiling water. The availability of larger supplies of natural gas to the facility, should increase its on duty cycle, so that would be a plus for the scam; excuse me, I meant scheme !
There are other kinds of energy hardware that work a whole lot better with natural gas than square miles of flat mirrors do. This could be a triumph for fracking.
G

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 5:20 pm

ripshin
After the beating widows & orphans took in PG&E’s last bankruptcy (Enron, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger were involved), the only folks who should own the stock now are the proverbial “greater fools” we always hear about in economics.
Random thought: a “greater fool” to economics is like an infinity to physics…

March 21, 2016 8:06 am

Sun and wind power seems to fail everywhere at least to some extent but our Liberal government fearing catastrophic AGW keeps pressing on. My brother in law has a solar installation on his property and is paid about .60\$ per KWH in Ont. Power to the consumer during peak times is about .16\$ per KWH and Ontario sells unused power to Mich. and New York for .012\$ per KWH. These people in government can’t even do arithmetic. Please I am in favor of finding alternative sources of energy but lets try it out at sensible rates and cost. I believe the best storage of power right now is to pump hydro-electric stations backwards, batteries should be coming real soon now but until we get better power storage why invest in more and more intermittent sources of energy? The other advance we need is much much better long distance transmission of power. By the way my undergrad degree is in electrical engineering although I worked in software my whole career.

March 21, 2016 10:14 am

Then you should have no problem with calculating:
a) the energy loss wasted in pumping water uphill into a reservoir; including the costs to build and maintain said pumps. Don’t forget to include costs for multiple pumps that are required to overcome the inefficiencies of pumping water far up hill.
b) Requiring either excess hydro generating capacity so that water can drive turbines when the renewables just aren’t working up to snuff. Don’t forget the additional costs to use the generators.
c) The additional costs for building new or upgraded hydro power plants
d) the costs from loss of habitat for migratory species that return to the river; spawning ‘ladders’ are grossly inefficient at replacing river wide access.
e) The imaginary costs for ‘battery technology’ that does not exist. Yet is a terrible term for any technology. A term which means building hopes upon an imagined technology instead of waiting till a proven technology is physically actually built.
The Ivanpah bird killing absurdity is based on building unproven concepts on blind expensive faith.

March 22, 2016 6:51 am

When we sell excess power at 1.2 cents/KWH and the rate power is sold to consumers is about 16 cents/KWH inefficiencies are noise. By real soon now I mean that battery power is just around the corner and will stay that way for some undefined period of time. Just like fusion power should be here in 20 years ie real soon now, 20 years is the minimum expected time if everything goes absolutely perfectly, which it never does.

AnonyMoose
March 21, 2016 12:01 pm

Dave, if you want hydro run backwards then have your utility start digging. They’re going to need a huge hole below their dams to hold enough water to make it worth the trouble of pumping it back up.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 5:27 pm

AnonyMoose
As of a few years ago (and perhaps until this day) PG&E actually did something like this.
In the high Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake A was higher than Lake B. During the day, Lake A was drained into Lake B thru a power generating station. During the night, when electric rates were low, water in Lake B was pumped uphill back into Lake A.

March 22, 2016 6:46 am

The water storage “hole” is called Lake Ontario.

Greg F
March 21, 2016 3:00 pm

… batteries should be coming real soon now …

My brother who has a dozen patents on advanced battery technology generally rolls his eyes when he hears stuff like this. In my view people who think this is possible have no idea of the magnitude of energy involved nor do they understand at all how the grid operates.

stan stendera
March 21, 2016 4:40 pm

+1000

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 5:29 pm

Unmentionable
March 21, 2016 8:22 pm

I doesn’t ‘fail’ though Dave, that’s the problem, it works fine, it is not seen as a failure, so is not seen as a failure.
And politicians, media and greens are hiding that it is a hopelessly uneconomic dead-end in the fact of vastly cheaper energy sources, and that it will undoubtedly send its users broke over time.
About two years ago the ABC Australia’s Finance and Economics reporter, Steven Long, presented and narrated a 4-Corners report on renewable power, in which he utterly failed to mention its massive production inefficiency and price uncompetitiveness. And this very plant ad those before it were held up as shinning examples of the future of power supply in the world.
Transcript:
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/07/07/4038488.htm
Video (runs ~45 mins)
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/07/07/4038488.htm
As a result my opinion of this economics and finance ‘journalist’ is consequently extremely low”
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stephen-long/167162
But that’s what’s going on, the people who know for certain it is an economically hopeless approach to providing base load power are promoting the stuffing out of it as a solution to everything – and are so far, getting away with this dishonest “stand-and-deliver” highway man’s con job, rank banditry promoted and enabled by our own governments and treacherous public-funded state media national broadcasters.
In the meantime, these places will be increasingly unattractive to invest, and markedly noncompetitive in global markets, so public revenue will fall, debt will rise, and they’ll be and increasingly become thoroughly unable to replace the state and private infrastructure, thus creating the mother of all multi-decade long horrendous power supply messes, and recovery from the solar power debacle to come,
i.e. third-world style daily random failures of supply.
Other than that I love solar power, it’s brilliant!

March 22, 2016 6:53 am

I would be willing to give them a bit more time having been team lead on breakthro projects that took much longer than we planned. Other projects we delivered early when we were using existing technology. So it depends.

Charlie
March 21, 2016 8:06 am

C’mon, it has provided thousand of permanent green jobs. Strike that. Eighty six permanent jobs.

David S
March 21, 2016 8:07 am

You’re right about solar, but I wouldn’t get too excited about nuclear after Fukushima. The full effects of that mess haven’t been felt yet. And the question raised in the 1979 movie the China Syndrome, still hasn’t been answered yet; What do you do with the waste?

Marcus
March 21, 2016 8:26 am

..China Syndrome ?? Really ? You do understand how gravity works don’t you ?

March 21, 2016 8:36 am

The mountain deep storage project Obama shut down was an excellent solution.

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 8:44 am

Nuclear Waste
Dump it five miles deep in the ocean. What is ther objection to that? All the nuclear waste we could produce in a thousand years would make no difference to the seas. What about the life down there? There is little of it and most of that around vents. Remember that the oceans cover 3/4 of the planet and 99.999999999999999% of the ocean area would be unaffected.
Or are we afraid of mutated whales?
Eugene WR Gallun

March 21, 2016 8:58 am

Uh no. Might jump start the decepticons.

jake
March 21, 2016 9:18 am

Dump it? Reprocess it as others do.
Would you think it smart buying 16 gal of gasoline, drive to burn 1 and dump the 15?

Matt Bergin
March 21, 2016 10:37 am

I agree we should be reprocessing the fuel. The burn to dump ratio is closer to, buy 100 gallons use one throw 99 away

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 5:32 pm

Eugene WR Gallun
…or use Thorium…

Jack
March 22, 2016 7:27 am

“Five miles deep in the ocean”, close to a subduction zone wherein it will be swallowed in the bowels of Earth forever.

george e. smith
March 23, 2016 2:11 pm

I believe that if you put it on the bottom of some of those deep ocean trenches, that the natural deposition rate simply buries it, until it gets subducted underneath some other tectonic plate to disappear for multimillions of years.
g

arthur4563
March 21, 2016 9:29 am

Apparently some are pretty ignorant about near-future nuclear power technology. Fukushima harmed no one and never will. Anyone who claims there can be another Fukushima type accident (which required a tsunami, hurricane, lack of backup pumping ) is rather ignorant of the changes made. Search the internet to find out why.
As to the question of meltdown, current Gen 3+ designs, which are the only ones being built, will likely never have a meltdown as a result of an accident – they have passive cooling systems that require no immediate operator action.
As for nuclear waste, only the uninformed are unaware that the next generation of reactors, molten salt reactors, being tested and developed by Transatomic Power (former MIT graduate students) and Terrestrial Energy (Canadian) , and Chinese, both make any meltdown physically quite impossible and require zero operator interaction in case of any accident, with respect to radiation – they are walk away safe. China Syndrone was pretty much fantasy – the new reactors , make the movie’s theme laughably absurd, reactor-wise. Nuclear wastes are in fact, the fuel that will be most often burned in a molten salt reactor. After burning, (an MSR can extract most of the the 97% remaining energy in the uranium) the “waste” is smaller and will return to background radiation levels in a 120 years. Storing this low level radioactive waste will cost practically nothing, and it wouild be of no use to anyone wanting to build a nuclear weapon. There is enough nuclear waste currently lying around that it could fuel molten salt reactors and provide all the energy this country needs for the next 1000 years. Nor wouild the world ever run out of nuclear fuel – the oceans are full of it and the molten salt reactor fuel costs, even when extracting from the oceans, is insignificant. And THAT is what’s going to happen to nuclear wastes, which aren’t wastes at all when molten salt reactors are around.
Molten salt reactors also can be refueled as they operate so no need for refueling
shutdowns, which means capacities at or above 100% are possible. A MSR can also load follow, thus able to function as both a base load provider and a mid load provider. And the fuel is under extremely low pressure – incapable of being ejected to any extent from the fuel reservoir. And the water used in the high pressure turbine system is isolated from the radioactive fuel and thus not radioactive, thus presents no escaped radiation danger. The MSR costs little more than half the cost of a typical nuclear reactor and will be built in factories. Site preparation costs are also far less. The cost of the power will be about half that of natural gas or coal. It is very proliferation resistant, using low level radiation fuel. It will, in all likelihood, replace every other method or producing power. Commercialization expected 2020, although the Chinese are pouring money into their designs and may beat the U.S to that state.

vboring
March 21, 2016 11:08 am

Pretty much exactly what I was going to say.
Nuclear will soon be a “no-regrets” technology in the US. Cheaper, cleaner, and no CO2 or fuel supply risks.
If you’re not already aware of them, I’d add Thorcon to your list of viable MSR technologies. They’re working with the government of Indonesia to rapidly commercialize a design that is basically just a scaled up version of the ORNL reactor.
Terrapower is also working on a molten reactor design with the Southern Company and the Electric Power Research Institute with DOE funds. It is a molten chloride fast reactor.
Exciting times.
That said, none of these new technologies are necessary. Korea builds Gen III reactors for a fraction of the price we do with the same safety. Their labor is a little cheaper than ours. Even correcting for that, nuclear in the US should cost less than natural gas. The difference is regulations.
https://judithcurry.com/2016/03/13/nuclear-power-learning-rates-policy-implications/

rocdoctom
March 21, 2016 11:15 am

Ditto. Technology is there…politics has not caught up.

March 21, 2016 2:48 pm

“they have passive cooling systems”
Do you mean a few have passive emergency cooling systems? All operating or under construction power reactors have active cooling systems. Passive systems limit the power of the reactor and also have failure modes.
All reactors designed to US standards will protect people even if there is core damage.
“Chinese are pouring money into their designs…”
Are mostly building slightly improved copies of 40 year old US designs but will only be able to market to countries with lower standards. The South Koreans are way ahead.
Do not confuse a good communist propaganda machine with leadership.
There is nothing wrong with following.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:36 am

David S{nake} or S{illy}: You do with the waste what France and all other nuclear power-sane do. Do some research. Education will free you from your unsupported, irrational, fear of nuclear power. Dry cask storage (forced upon the industry by the federal gov.t’s anti-nuclear power policies) works. Underground works.
Fukushima is not an example of nuclear power causing a “mess.” (http://www.cfact.org/2013/10/12/physicist-there-was-no-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/ )
The “issue” in the junk science movie “China Syndrome” was answered before the movie was even made.
You are, from your ignorant assertions after we here have attempted (I’ve seen you post almost these exact same words on WUWT before — your ignorance is, thus, contrived) to inform you, obviously not interested in the facts about nuclear power. You are likely just pushing coal (which, if so, just be up front: COAL IS GOOD) or “green” tech or something. Or you are phobic or psychotic. Whatever, I posted the above article AGAIN for others who might learn.
And to prevent your attempt to mislead (given that you are not phobic or psychotic).

Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
March 21, 2016 9:51 am

Fukushima is a design from the Sixties, and was due ti be decommissioned. There are much better and safer design today, that produce a fraction of the waste.

Bob Burban
March 21, 2016 11:20 am

Building a reactor just above sea level on a coast with a history of tsunamis is just plain nuts – a case of stupidity of truly Olympic proportions … but this somehow receives little mention.

March 21, 2016 3:01 pm

No one was hurt! How much safer do you want? Can you put a number on safer?
I have lots of experience with the those designs. Of course lesson learned are incorporated into old plants as well.
The amount of waste is also about the same. Very Little!

March 21, 2016 9:53 am

David S,
Nuclear waste is no problem at all. Willis had an article explaining how to safely get rid of it.
The problem is political, not technical.

stan stendera
March 21, 2016 4:41 pm

-1000

Stanley Hasegawa
March 21, 2016 8:17 am

They don’t need to install diesel generators because they already have natural gas boilers they use to “prime” the system each day. In August of last year, they got permission to raise the amount of natural gas used for “priming” by 60% so they could increase the run time of their boilers from 1hr each day to 4.5 hrs. each day. Of course the operators deny that the burning of 1.5 million standard cubic feet of natural gas annually is adding significantly to the generated output of the plant. However, the natural gas is likely contributing at least 5% of the output of the plant because the operators wiggled out of a provision that the natural gas fuel heat input could not exceed 5% of the heat input from the sun — whatever the heck that means. Here’s the article I read:

March 21, 2016 8:18 am

PG&G doesn’t PAY! the rate payers will just get an adjustment up to cover this plus profit. The more the better for them…pg

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 8:20 am

Green failure after green failure after green failure — all while the big players “green” themselves at the taxpayer’s expense.
You can’t change human nature but big government equals big corruption and small government equals small corruption. From a practical standpoint which is better?
Eugene WR Gallun

March 21, 2016 3:19 pm

It depends on how good you are at statistics.
A 5 MWe wind turbine is a big advance over 1 MWe machine.
A 1200 MWe nuke plant is about 10% bigger than an 800 MWe plant. A visitor touring the plant would likely not be able to tell the difference. Now 1600 MWe nuke plants are being built to replace 2 800 MWe plants.
The benefit of economy of scale is not so much in size but in the number of operators and maintenance.
New reactors are being designed for 60 years because many of the one designed for 40 years are lasting 60 maybe 80 years.

george e. smith
March 23, 2016 2:23 pm

Well Lord Rutherford said (among other things); “If you have to use statistics you should have done a better experiment.”
I guess he felt that it was better to be good at experiments than statistics.
The output of a statistical calculation is all about the algorithm used; and it is independent of the numbers (data set) operated on. And it is not about ANY numbers that are NOT operated on.
A folded piece of paper is still just a piece of paper, with folds in it the paper isn’t changed, just the shape.
You can always unfold it; and recover a useful piece of paper.
G

Steve Oregon
March 21, 2016 8:27 am

No one should trust PG& E. They are guaranteed a hefty profit no matter what they do or how any investment turns out.
This invites all sorts of decisions and pursuits that use manipulation to improve their interests at the expense of rate payers. Business as usual for a monopolized utility.

jpatrick
March 21, 2016 8:37 am

Solar and wind generation of electricity appear to be interesting examples of where economies of scale don’t seem to apply.

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 9:08 am

jpatrick — Interesting observation — Increasing the size of government is another example.– Eugene WR Gallun

BFL
March 21, 2016 8:37 am

“have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum”
Typical open government. Wonder if an FOIA submittal could shake that number loose before they lost their homework.

jake
March 21, 2016 8:47 am

There are only two of the six renewable sources where the output grows: wind and solar (W&S). Combined, W&S generated 24 GW, somewhat less than the old-timer hydro, in 2015.
The wind growth is slowing most likely because the best sites for windmills have already been exploited, the end-of-life mills are being torn down, subsidies are declining, and also because the enthusiasm for windmills departed with Dr. Chu’s leaving his DOE Secretary position; the new Secretary, Dr. Muniz, believes in solar.
Let’s now consider the contribution of the renewables’ combined 55 GW on the scale of the U.S. energy usage of 467 GW for electricity and 3260 GW for primary energy in 2015. The W&S would have to produce additional 412 GW for 100 % renewable electricity generation. Should electric cars become ubiquitous they will consume another 110 GW* lifting the total to 522 GW from the 2015 level.
Do renewables matter? Or, can W&S impact global climate change measurably? Apparently not. There is also no chance that the US, or individual states, will meet the repetitious commitments for 20, 50 or 100 percent of energy to “be derived from renewable, clean sources” in the usual 5, 10 or 20 years timetable, numbers repeatedly proposed by the facts-ignorant politicians and prejudiced media in cohorts with the “Big Wind and Big Solar” interests.
The question is now how many billion dollars were spent on developing W&S to get the above gigawatts. I do not know but I do know that renewables are a political undertaking undermining our economy. Practical engineers learned enough from renewable built under pres. Carter that their uoutput is too small and too expensive.
Stan Jakuba

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:50 am

Wind and solar (with current tech knowledge) are a permanently negative ROI investments. Output (even given your assertion that it is increasing) cannot ever cover cost — until BIG technology breakthroughs. which are not even on the horizon yet, happen.
Hydro-power NICELY covers its cost and produces a net return.
Wind and Solar are not even rationally comparable to hydropower.

jake
March 21, 2016 11:33 am

The point of the article was that the phrase “renewables, such as wind, solar and others” has no “others.” It is just W&S, and that ROI is permanently negative indeed. But not just that, the output is, and will remain, despite growth, negligible for all practical purposes.

March 21, 2016 3:31 pm

DOE does not produce power. Their main job is cleaning up cold war weapons sites.
If you can find something that they do well besides spend money, I would be interested.

G. Karst
March 21, 2016 8:48 am

I didn’t realize that throwing good money after bad was such a difficult concept for our leaders to understand. Oh well, we really do get the government we deserve. GK

March 21, 2016 8:50 am

It’s worth noting that the Los Angeles Times (3-4th largest circulation in the US) decided to not give any coverage to the news regarding the failing Ivanpah solar project. Zip.
But, yesterday they showcased another probably soon to be failing solar power plant in Nevada – called Crescent Dunes by a Santa Monica, CA company, SolarReserve.
The selling point? “The Santa Monica company recently completed what it touts as a first-of-its-kind solar power plant that stores electricity using salt.”
No – it does not. It stores molten “salts” such that they can continue to produce energy after the sun goes down. Not the same as “storing electricity.”

george e. smith
March 23, 2016 2:35 pm

Well Gary it is worse than that. It does not store either electricity OR solar energy.
Natural gas stored chemical fossil fuel thermal energy, is what is used to melt the salt (thereby storing the thermal energy as latent heat of melting (phase change).
Subsequently, solar thermal energy is used to keep the salt molten through the day, as they pour water on it to make steam to run a steam turbine.
After the sun goes down and can no longer keep the salt molten, the stored natural gas energy that was used to melt the salt in the first place gets released until the salt is all solid again.
So the only energy being stored, is that derived from the natural gas that was used to melt the salt in the first place.
If it could store solar energy, they wouldn’t need the gas to fire it up.
G

Gary Pearse
March 21, 2016 8:56 am

I consult in bankable feasibility for mining and processing. Some 4-5 years work minimum is required to advise to go ahead or not with opening a mine and constructing the plant(s) at hundreds of millions to billions in cost. Ivanpah project seems to me to be a scoping study level job with a price tag of 2B and a finding that the project isn’t economic. Ivanpah tech and cost of product would automatically put it in the no-go category. The ‘science’ and ‘engineering’ aren’t interchangeable for this kind of work.

rocdoctom
March 21, 2016 9:24 am

I’m in the mining business as well (40 years). 10+ years and a billion dollars is about the average for a new mine opening these days…sometimes longer. And the feasibility gurus pick apart your spreadsheet. How come the smart financial guys are blinded by the renewable energy projects…smoke and mirrors? true believers? or is it because they know and understand that the ratepayer will always be there and a loan from the government never has to be paid back. Mining companies not so fortunate–those banks expect to be paid back.

March 21, 2016 3:54 pm

The bean counters in the power industry are very good at picking apart a feasibility study and business plan. I have heard CEOs of power companies go on record on why a renewable energy project is a bad deal for rate payers.
State legislatures and utility regulators demand mandates are met.
Just for the record, some states demand that nuke plants get built and construction costs may be passed to ratepayers. Something to do with good jobs in those states and not wanting to send money to other states for coal and natural gas.

March 21, 2016 3:40 pm

So Gary you have no experience in the power industry? The power industry is a public service. If the public wants to pay more, we will build it.

Bruce Cobb
March 21, 2016 8:57 am

If there were in fact a way to increase their production of energy (presumably, without further expense), then common sense says they would have done so way before now.
Anyway, Big Green isn’t in the energy biz; it’s in the bamboozle biz.

TheLastDemocrat
March 21, 2016 3:27 pm

Bruce – that is what I am wondering – is there some tweak they are going to do, like clean the mirrors daily or re-orient the mirrors, or lube the generator better?
Or are they milking the last few dollars out of this project – to disappear into campaign coffers, etc., before the citizens finally get fed up?

Steve Thatcher
March 23, 2016 6:31 am

Yes, they are keeping any profits coming as long as possible, but surely the main reason for extending the deadline to 31st July plus a further six months is to avoid the embarrassing headlines during the election campaign run-in. This would definitely not look good on the way to the polling booths.
SteveT

March 21, 2016 3:58 pm

Nuke, coal, and hydro do it every major overhaul. That is assuming the value of power exceeds the cost of the overhaul.

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 9:01 am

The plant owners have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum in exchange for getting time to improve the plant’s electricity output?
Let us see — a company that has never made a profit is paying money to PG&E? Not likely. I’m guessing that PG&E got a promise of future payment — which will be worthless when Ivanpah finally does go bankrupt. Financial smoke and mirrors to put off collapse as long as possible. Politics at work. Can’t have another spectacular Green failure before an election. The people at PG&E need to be prosecuted.
Eugene WR Gallun

March 21, 2016 4:12 pm

If history repeats itself, when solar thermal projects fail; power companies who are good at running nuke stream plants will come in and take over. This happens with nuke and coal plants too.
Pacific Gas and Electric does not come to mind as one of these leaders along with any other California utility. Duke, PP&L, and FP&L come to mind as leaders in running steam plants.

george e. smith
March 23, 2016 2:49 pm

PG&E is currently digging up a street near where I live to put in gas pipes. Everybody thinks they are laying sewer pipes, but I took a look at the huge thick steel walled pipes they are putting in and they are gas lines.
They dig the street up every day, just some place else, and then they throw down thick steel plates to try and cover the holes, so the plates move around day and night. So every time you drive that street, the plates and the orange cones are all in different places. You can never be sure whether the plates will fall into the holes or maybe shred your tires, and since they move around day to day, you never can tell where they are. It looks like the whole street has been bombed.
And Just before they started digging it all up, the City of Sunnyvale repaved the whole street to make it pristine road surface. Now it much like the Western front; all bomb craters.
And by latest count it takes three persons to hold a red octagon stop sign, which is the guy(al) holding the sign, plus the one telling him(er) which way to point the red side of it, and then the third one to tell the cars just where they can or can’t go, if and when they can go.
g

Walt D.
March 21, 2016 9:13 am

Here is a good place to go to find out about electric power in California.
http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx
Don’t forget that the Utilities have mandated targets to meet for using “renewable” energy.
BTW \$19 per MWh seems low – if this price is correct then it would be cheaper than natural gas plants. For a 10 heat rate, the fuel cost alone is \$20 when natural gas is selling at \$2.00 (at Henry Hub).

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:44 am

Dear Walt,
Thanks for the good info. and the reminder that it is the government that is driving this nonsense.
I believe it was \$19/watt.
Janice

Walt D.
March 21, 2016 11:38 am

Dear Janice:
Check here – they quote a variety of sources.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#California_Energy_Commission_.282014.29
\$19 is way too low. Even at Diablo Canyon, the marginal cost of fuel is \$8. For new coal and nuclear plants the cost is \$28. My recollection is that the public utilities, who are forced to buy, are signing contracts where they are paying \$80 for wind and over \$100 for solar.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 1:05 pm

Dear Walt,
At \$19/watt, it is very expensive, at least per Peter Lang’s (the above post’s author) source. You used MEGA watt in your \$19 figure quoted in your comment above. See also Gary Lensman, here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/03/21/failing-ivanpah-solar-power-plant-gets-temporary-repreive-but-is-producing-prohibitively-expensive-electricity/#comment-2171162.
Janice

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 1:08 pm

And, yes, Walt D., indeed, \$19/Mwatt is too low and that is why I wrote here, just so that you would not inadvertently appear to be supporting the efficiency of Ivanpah’s cost/unit.

March 21, 2016 10:41 am

The ‘Ivanpah presentation’ leaves some critical information out.
I posted this at Bishop Hill, the other day, which for some reason stripped out my imbedding the source url. That shouldn’t be a problem here.

“PG&E Wants to Give Ivanpah Plant More Time to Meet Power Targets”
…”In its filing with the CPUC, PG&E says both it and its ratepayers will also benefit from the new deals. Not only would renewable energy required under state law continue to flow, but PG&E would get undisclosed “consideration” — payment — for any gap in actual and promised electricity delivery. Such payments, not included in PG&E’s current Ivanpah agreements, would apply to the first two years of the plant’s operation as well as the proposed forbearance period.
The payments could take a bit of the sting out of the high price PG&E’s customers pay for Ivanpah power: around \$200 per megawatt hour, more than three times the rate set out in new agreements for electricity from solar plants that use photovoltaic panels, according to Lawrence Berkeley Lab researchers…”

KQED is a California local to Ivanpah news source and very interested in Ivanpah. If one prefers a more international source, both Morningstore and Nasdaq cover the same story.
Anyway, actual costs of around \$200 per MWH are far different than \$19 per MWH.
If Ivanpah is only getting reimbursed for \$19 of their costs, it isn’t very hard to understand who is going to fund the other \$181. Around here, they’re called the idiot taxpayers; but I could be wrong and it could be ‘environmental bond holders’,

Steve Thatcher
March 23, 2016 6:42 am

Nameplate capacity = 370 MW.
Expected average energy generation per year = 1,000,000 MWh.
This means average power output is 114 MW (about 1/10th of a new nuclear plant).
Capacity factor is 31%.
Cost = US \$2.2 billion = \$19/Watt average power delivered.
This is around 3x the cost of some recent nuclear power plant builds that most environmentalists have accused of being prohibitively expensive.
*************************************************************************************************************
I think the \$19 / Watt figure is the nominal building cost of the installation, NOT the cost of the eventual power produced.
SteveT

Joe Civis
March 21, 2016 12:20 pm

HI Walt,
as Janice said it looks like they said it cost \$19 per Watt not per MegaWatt which would translate to \$19,000 per MWh for the comparable cost not \$19 per MWh. \$19,000 per MWh is insanely high cost.
Cheers!
Joe

Joe Civis
March 21, 2016 12:30 pm

oops that would be \$19,000,000 per MWh not \$19,000….in my above post.
🙂 Cheers,
Joe

Walt D.
March 21, 2016 1:36 pm

Zeroth Law of Climate Science – 1 is approximately equal to 100.
First Law : Microscopic = catastrophic.

Joe Civis
March 21, 2016 2:39 pm

hi Walt from the article above ” = \$19/Watt average power delivered.” not Mega or Kilo Watt just plain old Watt so the the cost per Mega Watt would be \$19 multiplied by 1 million to denote Mega rather than plain old Watt hence the \$19,000,000 per MegaWatt hour. Not sure why it appears you are saying I am making it seem catastrophic when it is just the number from the article applied to get the MWh price that you are comparing to in CAISO.
Cheers,
Joe

March 21, 2016 9:21 am

Ivanpah was a subsidy-mining operation form the start. Only with government rules requireing purchase of the output at an un-economic price was the project ever viable. As this was politics from the start, why should it not remain politics?

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 9:26 am

It’s the solar CSP version of Beulah, ND and Rifle, CO
There are enough of these now to have a national learning tour of failed energy policy adventures.

Joel O'Bryan
March 21, 2016 10:09 am

The same situation exists for the U.S. corn-derived ethanol industry. Iowa corn farmers are now in many cases dependent on the federal government subsidies and forced gasoline blending from EPA mandates provides the market for a product few if anyone would want without government created incentives. Indeed the corrosive nature of ethanol in a largely hexane blend is well known. So use of ethanol has many down sides.
The Ivanpah plant use of fracked methane (most from the Four Corners area fields) to jump start the boilers will likely increase with this new deal, with those details carefully hidden by the players.
The bottomline is Corn-ethanol and the solar energy industries are just an extension of the welfare state, where dependency for those jobs creates reliable voting constituents.

March 21, 2016 4:40 pm

There is no mandate for corn ethanol. There is a small mandate for a certain amount of renewable sourced fuel and an additive to gasoline to replace MBTE.
As it happens corn farmers were first to the market with a practical product. Places like Iowa and Indiana are business friendly. Getting a ethanol plant up and running in California is a difficult permitting process.

Jpatrick
March 21, 2016 5:09 pm

Ethanol from corn or other agricultural source doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of energy production. Think of it this way. To get alcohol from corn, you have to ferment it, and then distill it. Suppose you ran your boilers for distillation by burning alcohol? How much do you think you would have left over? It’s not very much.

Grey Lensman
March 21, 2016 9:33 am

The rule of thumb is one million dollars per megawatt or usd 1 per watt, which makes this 19 times more expensive, not 3 times ? In the real world some can be done at usd 500,000 per megawatt

ttbroberg
March 21, 2016 9:38 am

…but it *looks* so cool. I just imagine buying one of those thinking of all the power, ok and all the fun I could have setting things on fire before realizing how much time I have to spend washing the dust off all those mirrors. Yish.

CD in Wisconsin
March 21, 2016 9:50 am

Besides having to clean the dust and sand off of those mirrors (probably) on a regular basis, I would dearly love to see what condition those mirrors will be in when the inevitable sandstorm or two goes blowing through the area.

March 21, 2016 4:52 pm

You wish! How about blowing snow in Wisconsin? Of course this is why we spend part of the winter in the Mojave. I really hate when California wig nuts brag about using less energy to heat in winter. Just saying that those is Wisconsin who deal with snow should not comment of dust.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:53 am

I don’t think the dead birds look too lovely, myself. I think it is very sad. They are killed painfully for NOTHING.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 10:20 am

Dear ttbroberg,
It just occurred to me that you may have missed the WUWT post containing this info.: “But the {Ivanpah} 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. …”
(http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/03/17/fail-ivanpah-solar-power-plant-not-producing-enough-electricity-may-be-forced-to-close/ )
Janice

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 10:26 am

Janice Moore — Dead birds don’t shit on mirrors. But there is a madness to their method. — Eugene WR Gallun

March 21, 2016 11:08 am

Also from my post at Bishop Hill:

“Bird Deaths Continue Through May at Ivanpah Solar”
…But it’s important to remember that the animal mortalities listed for Ivanpah in each month’s Compliance Report are almost certainly a drastic undercount.
Of the 80 bird carcasses recorded in May, 55 were found during carcass surveys while the remaining 25 were “incidental” finds made by plant workers during normal work operations. As only about 20 percent of the facility is covered by the carcass surveys, it’s reasonable to assume the actual month’s death toll is upward of 300 or so.
Factors that might hide additional deaths include the lack of any surveys outside the plants’ perimeter fences, despite observers having seen injured birds make it past the fence.
There’s also the fact that ISEGS is apparently home to a growing population of desert kit foxes, with five active dens as of April apparently housing at least nine months-old pups. It’s hard to imagine an animal better suited to scouring a project site for small dead animals before the biologists can find them than adult desert kit foxes working to feed a litter, and the foxes’ presence means the official dead bird tally is almost certainly lower than the actual death toll…”

Five active kit fox dens is a huge amount for such a small area of Mojave desert. One doesn’t get such a burst of predators without significant food sources.
Only twenty percent of the facility is lacklusterly searched for carcasses.

“…Two apparently new species appeared in May’s roster: two lazuli buntings, strikingly colored birds common throughout open lands in the West that catch small insects in flight, and a Lapland longspur, a small songbird generally found in the Arctic in late May instead of the California desert. In fact, Lapland longspurs are rare enough in California at any time of year that range maps for the species generally exclude most of the state, as well as Nevada.
More so than in past months’ Compliance Reports, the descriptions of the injuries suffered by the dead birds are rather affecting. Take for instance the record of an unidentifiable hummingbird found on May 6:
Entire body burned. Missing feathers over most of its body. Skull and keel exposed. Bill broken.
Or a Costa’s hummingbird found May 2, of which the biologist simply wrote “most of tail burnt off.”…

Several quite rare birds are killed that would shut down any other economic or industrial activity. Ivanpah must have an Obama document similar to Altamont Pass’s document allowing them to kill eagles, condors, and rare animals without legal ramifications.

“…The five tortoises missing for a year from the tortoise pens leave 102 sub-adult torts in the pens whose whereabouts are still known. The other 18 missing tortoises are part of the group that was released to a relocation area, after having radio transmitters affixed so that biologists could monitor their movements and their survival. Those tortoises may not all actually be missing: there’s a chance that some of the transmitters are malfunctioning due to battery failure, or that some of the tortoises may have wandered out of range.
Of those tortoises, at least six went missing this year according to spreadsheets included in the December compliance document. Three of the tortoises that went missing this year were last detected in August. Eight of the tortoises were missing all year. Six tortoises missing this year and eight missing since last year adds up to 14 tortoises missing in December, a discrepancy from BrightSource’s reported 18 missing non-penned tortoises that was not immediately explained by the document. Of all the tortoises marked as missing in the spreadsheet, one turned up again a month after she was marked AWOL.
Desert tortoises are listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. BrightSource’s project ran into a tortoise speedbump in 2011, when project workers started finding hundreds more of the Threatened reptile than its biologists had anticipated…”

What is disgusting is the amount of PR spin by so many alarmist sites and news sources in vain attempts to minimize the Ivanpah environmental disaster.
Economically, environmentally, energy production, Ivanpah is a disaster.
There it is; classic eco-delusional wonders of science. Terrible economics, excessive environmental damage, immense damage to rare species, eco-loons waving their hands and crying ‘nothing here’!
Nothing there is so correct.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 11:27 am

Dear Mr. Gallun,
Did you think I thought so? I thought tt was overlooking (hopefully, not rejoicing in consciously) the suffering of the birds. You “get” tt much better than I, no doubt. I sure did not understand tt to be asserting the fact that dead birds = clean mirrors. I thought tt just thought the mirrors were neat, period.
Thanks for clarifying for me.
Janice
P.S. Your using such in-your-face, vulgar, language makes me think I must have offended you (why else would you speak to me in that manner?). Please forgive me. I have NO idea what I said. Perhaps, you could tell me so that I could explain (or apologize).

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 11:34 am

Dear Theo,
GREAT comment. Thank you (gulp) for all that horror-illuminating information. Money can be a pretty ugly god at times.
Here’s to SPRING! 🙂
Janice

Eugene WR Gallun
March 21, 2016 6:03 pm

Janice Moore —
i was playing off the line you wrote — “They are killed painfully for NOTHING”.
In a moment of whimsy I gave a tongue-in-cheek reason for why the birds were killed and called the method of their execution “madness” — the implication being that bird killing was a deliberate design inclusion, a self-cleaning function — a small bit of extra madness added to the overall design of a plant that has been nothing but madness from the conceptual idea to its actual construction.
You add in a PS — “Your using such in-your-face vulgar language makes me think I must have offended you (why else would you speak to me in that manner?). Please forgive me I have NO idea what I said.”
Perhaps you could point to what “in-your-face vulgar language” I used? Your reply to my small post seems “non-sequitur”, not following from anything I actually said.
Perhaps you are merely “funing with me”. Am I, bastion of wit that I am, missing that point? By taking what you wrote seriously have I demonstrated that I am the one with no sense of humor?
Perhaps my greatest personal fault is that long ago I recognized that I am one of those people “who thinks he is a lot funnier than other people think he is” but have continued to make my jokes anyway. Maybe if I keep at it I might, some day, get a laugh out of people.
Eugene WR Gallun

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 7:53 pm

Dear Mr. Gallun,
Thank you for taking the time to write. Glad to know it was just a communication glitch, and nothing more. In the small chance that I can make myself understandable here, lol, I write again only to say that I’m just going to let go of what I (not you) considered to be “in-your-face” tone along with what I (not you) considered to be coarse language.
I believe you when you say that you were not trying to give a sharp response due to having been offended by me. We just have a different way of using language, I guess.
I do not get your joke, and that’s okay! 🙂
You have a fine sense of humor. I have seen it and appreciated it many times. If I (or others) do not always “get” the joke, that’s just par for the course in human communication.
KEEP ON WRITING (humorously or weirdly or what-EVER)!
Going my way with a slight smile, a little shake of the head, and good will in my heart toward you,
Janice
P.S. Again, THANK YOU, for talking to me. That was a real gift.

jeff
March 21, 2016 10:49 am

“…all the fun i could have setting things on fire…”.
right. i hope their controls aren’t hackable, else somebody with a sense of humor will start torching trucks on the adjacent interstate….

stan stendera
March 21, 2016 5:03 pm

Kit foxes are wonderful beautiful animals. The Kit fox explosion is probably the only good result of this disaster.

TonyL
March 21, 2016 9:48 am

Will Ivanpah ever produce as much solar energy as it took to manufacture it. Will it ever reach energy breakeven?
On The Other Hand:
Replace the heat units at the tops of the towers with steerable targeting mirrors, and you get an awesome Death Ray. You could shake down all the airlines, charging tolls for commercial air routes throughout the area.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 9:52 am

Answer: No. Before they could possibly reach break-even, the cost of maintenance and replacement makes it a negative ROI (do a future value calculation and it shows this).
*************
And: lol 🙂

Ack
March 21, 2016 10:12 am

How many roof top setups would have 2.2 billion funded?

GTL
March 21, 2016 12:28 pm

In New Jersey roof top setups are a great way to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich.
The rich can afford them, and allows them to receive subsidies from the poor who cannot. The utility companies act as the transfer agents. By increasing rates on those who cannot afford solar and paying absurd prices for power generated by these systems in the form of “generation credits” sold on an exchange. The utility never actually receives any of the power generated; the homeowners typically use it all but still receive the saleable “generation credits”. The purchases are forced upon the utility by State Statute in order to meet “renewable energy” targets. This effectively forces the utilities to pay many times the value of the minuscule amounts of energy they do not have to generate.
I am no longer a resident of NJ largely due to this kind of stupidity at every level of government in the State.

Paul
March 21, 2016 12:40 pm

“How many roof top setups would have 2.2 billion funded?”
Private sector: ~880,000,000 DC nameplate Watts @\$2.50 per.

March 21, 2016 5:32 pm

Do you mean smoke emitting diodes?
Fires are an inherit risk of producing power. Most steam plants have a fire brigade. Electrical fires can not be fought until deenergized which begs the question of how you turn of PV panels.
Rooftops implies building with with people in them. Hope the evacuation plan is well practiced.

redc1c4
March 21, 2016 10:20 am

i’m wondering where they get their “death rates”… out of thin air?

gaelansclark
March 21, 2016 10:39 am

Do I have this correct?……
370mW at 31% capacity = 114mW….per hour of operation at full capacity.
1,000,000 / 31% = 8,771
8,771 / 365 = 24.032
The solar plant has to run 24/7/365 in order to get to 1,000,000 mW hours of production!?!?
Are the numbers correct?

gaelansclark
March 21, 2016 10:41 am

1,000,000 / 114 = 8,771….
Okay…fixed that mosh-up.

jake
March 21, 2016 4:59 pm

The predicted Capacity Factor of 31 % indicates a 120 MW expected actual average output from Ivanpah. This is designed for output.
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.
Notice, these numbers are not PERCENTS. The represents thousands of percent.

Grey Lensman
March 21, 2016 8:30 pm

No. Its a calculation of its true size. If it produces one million kw/h in a year, you divide thast by 365, then 24 to get its average hourly output. You can then compare it with every other electrical generator and cost it.
I needed to explain that?

n.n
March 21, 2016 10:47 am

There is a vast store of untapped wealth (and debt) in American homes, land, resources, labor, capital, etc. The lobbyists for the “green” industry are the same as the lobbyists for the medical industry are the same as… the lobbyists for whatever special or peculiar interest.
Establishment of a modern orthodoxy is prohibitively expensive.

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 10:58 am

This is an old, outdated approved project. The modern ones involve taxpayer funds sent to Africa for renewable energy projects and we find out where the money actually went later, years later.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 6:02 pm

From the email I keep getting, it’s definitely sent to Nigeria.

March 21, 2016 11:06 am

Who has legal standing to sue? Why should shareholders of for profit companies be forced to pay above market rates? Time to shine some light on the roaches.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 6:06 pm

Bud St. Rong
You call these “for profit companies”when they’re really “maybe some profit gets distributed to shareholders heavily regulated government sponsored monopolies”.
Among other sins, they have to do this crazy stuff to keep their operating licenses.

March 21, 2016 11:08 am

The energy share table needs work. Here is data from 2102. Renewables currently have a slightly higher percentage of total energy produced. Death rate excludes energy consumed for cooking and heating fires.
Energy Source Death Rate per TWh Energy Provided
Coal 60 30% of world energy, 50% of electricity
Coal for electricity – USA 15
Oil 36 33% of world energy
Natural Gas 4 24% of world energy
Biomass and geothermal 12 .8%
Solar .44 .2%
Wind .15 .9%
Hydro .10 6.7%
Nuclear .04 4.4%

March 21, 2016 11:22 am

Solyndra comes to mind. This technology should have been demonstrated on a smaller scale. What we now have is anvembarassing albatross that enriched the builders and promoters, is suckingnin more \$, only to try and remedy that embarrassment, and it will end up bankrupt, too expensive to maintain, a \$2Billion + decaying hulk like some of the wind farms. These technologies should be first developed to be reliable and cost effective instead of funding politicians Pork barrel constituents. This embarrassment will not go away. It’s going to get worse. Perhaps Donald Trump can do better than the clowns we have had in government since Truman

Tom O
March 21, 2016 11:34 am

An extension to July – gets the plant safely passed the primaries and political conventions with a mechanism to extend if for 6 more months – which gets it safely passed the general elections, so no greenie pol has to worry about the big waste being in the media to do them harm.
I see a lot of calls of “Go nuclear” and am wondering. I still haven’t read any place where the waste can safely be stored as yet. Did I miss out on something somewhere, or are we still to assume it is perfectly natural and “safe” to store the “spent rods” in a holding pool indefinitely? Thought Fukishima might have made some sort of statement regarding the practice. No, I’m not anti-nuclear, just am wondering if safety practices and storage have changed in the past couple of years.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 11:40 am

Tom O:
Re: nuclear waste safe storage
Yes. Your education has a large gap in it. You can easily fill it, however! 🙂
Try: “dry cask storage” and “French nuclear waste storage in U.S.” and “Yucca Mountain waste storage” and like search terms to get the facts.
Your last MEMO appears to have been from the 1950’s….
Have fun learning and rejoicing in the great storage options of the 1980’s and beyond!
Janice

Curious George
March 21, 2016 1:08 pm

I am with Tom on this one. The nuclear waste storage is a political problem, not a technical one.

Janice Moore
March 21, 2016 1:51 pm

Uh, Curious George? I think…, annoying as it may be to you, that it means you go with Janice on that one… . And I am glad you do! 🙂

TonyL
March 21, 2016 11:52 am

Safe permanent storage was to be supplied by the Yucca Mountain Repository. Work on the site was officially started by the NRC way back in 1978. In reality, the site had already undergone years of extensive development under the old AEC. The site has been a political football ever since, providing lifetime employment for both those who advocate for, and against, the site. The program was finally canceled by the Obama administration, in it’s second term.

March 21, 2016 6:22 pm

DOE is responsible for spent fuel storage. NRC is responsible for regulation things nuclear. Work on Yucca Mountain decision when Clinton was POTUS. POTUS Bush made the decision to go ahead. Application was made to the NRC under Bush but Obama stopped the review as one of his first acts as POTUS.
It took a while but the courts explained that Obama that he is not above the law. The review is ongoing and the project is not cancelled. It might be replaced by a better idea but that would require congress to act.

Charlie
March 21, 2016 11:50 am

They should have built one like the Sierra Sun Tower in Lancaster, California. It got an award. In December 2009, editors of Power Engineering magazine selected Sierra SunTower as the winner of the “Best Renewable Project”. Then it got another award – In February 2010, Sierra SunTower won Renewable Energy World’s “Renewable Project of the Year” award,
Oh, perhaps not.
As of 2015, the Sierra Sun Tower is not in commercial operation, as it has been deemed to costly to operate on but the sunniest of days. As a technology demonstrator, it mirrors the less than predicted, real-world outcomes being observed around the world by concentrated solar power.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_SunTower#cite_note-4

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 12:24 pm

“Technology demonstrator” is the opt out wording for all of the full scale industrial sized plants and the whole taxpayer funded program too.

Svend Ferdinandsen
March 21, 2016 12:44 pm

The most striking is that they forgot to make realistic models of the power output.
The sunshine, mirrors , collector and a steamoperated powerplant is all known technology with only small errors in predictability.

Resourceguy
March 21, 2016 1:10 pm

Why check details when you can walk away with the money and reward bonuses as in the case with Solyndra execs.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 6:11 pm

Svend
Probably recycled some old climate models showing higher generation…awww, just forget it.

indefatigablefrog
March 21, 2016 1:05 pm

It doesn’t matter that this is a dumb idea that doesn’t work.
Providing that a large swathe of the population can be convinced that it “deserves” their support and congratulation.
It has a convincingly technology and futuristic appearance.
It produces energy from “free sunlight”.
It represents an aspiration to “dream the impossible” or “think the unthinkable” or “believe in better” or somesuch crap.
So, anyone who attempts to criticize it according to a rational “hard-headed” analysis of its expense or disappointing performance, or complete failure to deliver the promised cheap energy – that person will be deemed to be a rascal or an anti-renewables big-oil funded shill, or similar.
And that is the reason why the Green blob can still keep hoovering up and pocketing other people’s money.
They are now immune to reason.
They have convinced themselves that there is a merit in all kinds of stupid squandering and B.S.
They can turn a practical failure into a P.R. success.
The ongoing juggernaut can not be stopped by rational opposition.
Therefore I am recommending that if anyone wants to make money in the future then sell sensible and invest in bullcrap. Because bullcrap is going to be a growth industry.
And it’s infinitely scalable.
At least for as long as they can keep the money-presses rolling!!!

March 21, 2016 1:18 pm

“What do you do with the waste?”
This comes under the general category for anti-s of there are too many unanswered questions. Of course, the questions are all answered but anti-s are not interested in the answer.
What anti-nukes fail to realize is that the same tactic can be used by the anti-solar nut jobs. So what about the hazardous waste for Ivanpah?
I actually know where to find the answer to that question. It is in the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) which I read. I have also read the EIS for nuke projects outside of California. The answer to the question, why not build solar instead?
Solar does not work! When the solar industry actually demonstrated that solar can replace a nuke plant, then the economics can be considered.
Trying to prove something works is not a waste of money. The nuclear industry did 55 years ago and has been paying lots of taxes since.

DredNicolson
March 21, 2016 1:27 pm

Uttering the words “nuclear power” still conjures up the specter of Chernobyl for many. Never mind that the technology and level of safety have grown by several leaps and bounds since then, making another such meltdown exceedingly unlikely. (You’d be more likely to win a multi-million\$ lottery than to see a major meltdown in your lifetime, I’ll wager.) And a media eternally stuck in the 70s as far as coverage of nuclear power is concerned.
While the statistically minuscule death rate for nuclear is eye-opening, people tend to focus on the manner of death over the quantity or likelihood. Like someone who is more afraid of flying than driving, despite many more people dying in traffic accidents than in plane crashes. A car crash is over quickly and you might not even know what hit you. A plane can take several minutes to crash land, during which time you get to fret over your lack of agency and wonder if your number’s up (or if the pilot’s number is up).
And “death by radiation” ranks high on a lot of peoples’ *Don’t Wanna Go That Way* list.

Chip Javert
March 21, 2016 6:23 pm

DredNicolson
I be careful with that bet: “You’d be more likely to win a multi-million\$ lottery than to see a major meltdown in your lifetime, I’ll wager”
This article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_meltdown) identifies 19 reactor melt-downs (including Soviet nuclear subs) since about 1955 – I know that’s in the past and you’re referring to the future, but core melt-downs are not exactly black swans.

March 21, 2016 7:36 pm

Here is what Chip and Dred do not understand. Regulatory approval to build a power plant is not based on irrational fears. Plants must be shown to be safe with insignificant environmental impact.
For example there have been 4 LWR meltdowns. No one was hurt. Having worked on the designs and at many of the plants, I can explain why to the satisfaction of regulators.
To simplify to the civilian: time, distance, and shielding. LWR meltdowns are a slow process. You have time to walk away. Fission products are contained in a building away from people. The containment building has thick concrete walls.
One reason that a meltdown might prevent building new nukes is the loss of an asset. TMI cost a lot to clean up but not as much as a coal ash spill. In Japan, many assets were toast because the earthquake exceeded the design basis of the plant. The meltdown made the decommissioning more expensive.
The point is that power plants are a complex decision with 75 years of unknowns. One thing for sure is that critics are not going to put you out of business by making electricity.

Steven Burnett
March 21, 2016 2:08 pm

Units are inaccurate though context is understood

Walter Sobchak
March 21, 2016 2:10 pm

The plant is mostly famous its ability to barbeque birds on the wing.
If we could get turkeys to fly, it might be useful, but:

Longer version for those of you who are too young to remember one of the greatest sit-com episodes ever is at lf3mgmEdfwg on You Tube.

DredNicolson
March 21, 2016 3:21 pm

Wild turkeys can fly, and fly quite well. They’ll roost in tall trees at night if they’re available. Domesticated turkeys put on too much weight to fly, and/or are slaughtered before their flight feathers fully grow in.

Walter Sobchak
March 21, 2016 3:29 pm

My only contact with Wild Turkey is the 100 proof Rye, which is one of my favorite whiskeys.

March 21, 2016 2:54 pm

Headline should read “Failing Ivanpah solar power plant gets temporary ‘reprieve’ (not repreive), but is producing ‘prohibitively expensive’ electricity” Unfortunately such correction will not improve its costs or make it run at night.

Peter
March 21, 2016 3:44 pm

I hope they keep it open long enough for me to go see the “streamers”. Maybe they could sell tours to help pay for the exorbitant costs?
Politicians were talking about putting one of these in Australia, holding Ivanpah up as the gold standard. We have some beautiful raptors and other stunning bird species, I hope they don’t. Why do the Greens dislike birds so much?

stan stendera
March 21, 2016 5:43 pm

I’ve often wondered the same thing. Why do the greens hate birds so much? Not to mention bats.

March 21, 2016 3:53 pm

“The plant’s owners have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum in exchange for getting time to improve the plant’s electricity output.”
And who’s money are they using to pay PG&E if they are not making money with their “white elephant” power plant?

David L. Hagen
March 21, 2016 4:02 pm

Commercial PV at \$49/MWh
The Saudi Electric Company is setting the solar cost benchmark by offering < \$0.05/kWh (\$49/MWh).
Record: Saudi Electric Company Lands Solar PPA Under 5¢/kWh
August 12th, 2015 by James Ayre

Solar energy prices are continuing to fall rather rapidly around the world, but especially in the Middle East, as evidenced by a new deal that will see the Saudi Electric Company develop a 50 megawatt (MW) solar energy project that already has a power purchase agreement (PPA) secured for 0.1875 Riyals (\$0.049) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). . . .
s Saudi Arabia is currently aiming to invest upwards of \$109 billion into solar energy in the coming years — as a means of keeping up with growing electricity demand, and as a means of decreasing local oil use (thereby increasing exports) — it’ll be interesting to see how low future PPAs in the region can get.

(PS Saudis bought a PV chip plant to manufacture the panels etc.)

March 21, 2016 7:46 pm

It must be true, it is on the internet.
My prediction is epic failure based on zero cases of actual performance meeting expectations.

David L. Hagen
March 22, 2016 8:30 am

Saudi Electric bid 200 MW PV to Dubai at 5.84c/kWh, 12.4c/kWh for CSP
Saudi power giant sees solar taking on base load fossil fuels 22 Jan 2015

The head of \$25 billion Saudi power firm ACWA Power says that the cost of solar technologies are falling so quickly that within a few years the combination of solar PV and solar towers with storage will be able to compete directly with base load fossil fuels . . .
Last week, ACWA stunned the solar industry by winning an expanded tender for a 200MW solar farm in Dubai with a bid of 5.84c/kWh over 25 years. In the first year, the plant will get a tariff of just 5.1c/kWh.. . .
“What it actually shows that if you get the business model right, you can lower your transaction costs, you can source the right kind of technology, and the excellent solar resource in Abu Dhabi means you can lower your costs substantially.” . . .
Padmanathan explains that ACWA was able to reach 5.84c/kWh in the Dubai tender because the cost of financing was below 4 per cent. And while most projects get 80 per cent debt, and 20 per cent equity, this project got finance for 86 per cent of the project, while more expensive equity took just 14 per cent.. . .
He noted that the 12.4c/kWh tariff for the first year is less than half the tariff for CSP (concentrated solar power) demanded just three years ago. Over the 25-year period, the average price is 15c/kWh, but this is half the cost of CSP just three years ago. He says it can go down to 9c/kWh as more solar towers with storage are rolled out.

PS Kit P Any evidence to back your prediction?
I think I’ll take the word of a \$25 billion firm committing its name and resources!

March 23, 2016 11:02 am

Not one single solar project has ever produced the amount of electricity that was claimed in marketing reports.
We love to brag about the power we produce. For example, the nuke plants in the US run at a 90% capacity factor. When we designed them, the expectation was an 80% capacity factor.

David L. Hagen
March 23, 2016 12:17 pm

Kit P. Irrelevant. The issue is whether Saudi Electric can commercially provide 200 MW or 50 MW peak electricity and provide survive being paid 5.84 c/kWh. They can obviously add enough panels to reach the 200 MW peak. The critical issue is commercially surviving on 5.84 c/kWh and then 4.9 c/kWh for the PV installed over the 25 year terms. With Saudi’s planning on investing at least \$109 billion into solar, I would not bet against that. 4.9 c/kWh is a lot less expensive to the buyers than paying to make electricity from diesel fuel!

gareth
March 21, 2016 4:04 pm

I was going to comment on your units: \$19/watt rather than \$something/MWh, but actually it’s a good metric…
\$19/watt is like paying \$38,000 for a 2kW generator, admittedly with free fuel for life (and free Sunday roast, various birds).
Say the value of the electricity produced is \$0.05/kWh, if we run 24/7 that’s \$0.05/kWh x 2kW x 8766 h/year = \$876.60 pa. But it only works daytime, so the payout is only about half, say \$440 pa.
The cost of financing the £38,000 capital, even @ 3% is £1,140 pa, about 2.5 times the income.
Not a good deal at all, unless you get paid well over market value for your electricity…
Oh, silly me, that’s what we’re doing! It’s actually quite a good deal after all (unless of course you’re the taxpayer, paying the difference, or a roasted eagle, “enjoying” Sunday supper).

H.R.
March 21, 2016 5:56 pm

Gareth, if chickens could fly… well then we’d have something. People would come from miles around for Fresh Sun-roasted Chicken.*
*Patent pending ;o)

H.R.
March 21, 2016 6:01 pm

Oops! I was reading from bottom to top, I see above I might have competition from Big Turkey.

Karl
March 21, 2016 7:08 pm

\$19 a watt installed is ridiculous when a consumer can get PV installed for \$2 a watt

March 21, 2016 4:22 pm

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

Those who think it important to hurt people and increase overall costs of most everything, and especially those who think incinerating birds in flight is a important, might think the waste is worthwhile.

rogerknights
March 21, 2016 5:01 pm

“60 Minutes” could add this to their sequel to their episode on the failure of the green power industry.
Oops, no they won’t–not after the furious reaction they got from their green viewers.

March 21, 2016 5:16 pm

I think this is a ridiculous way to produce energy – but I’m really curious about how they got the engineering so wrong.
Surely if its just a matter of needing more heat, they could just add a few more rows of mirrors. To increase heating by 30% would only require:
(4/3) ^ 0.5 = 15% increase in radius of the mirrors.
If the mirrors were placed on movable mounts, the array could be defocussed if necessary, on really sunny days.

March 21, 2016 6:11 pm

“My concern at the time was that getting to the point that a pumper truck was needed meant that the local fire department and a million other people died when the dam failed.”
Fair question Tom.
Now plants are installing redundant risers and staging emergency equipment on site. There are also regional response centers where additional portable equipment.
Let me put this in perspective. How many gallons of drinking water do you have for an emergency. You and your family will be rotting corpses before being contaminated by fission products.

Unmentionable
March 21, 2016 7:54 pm

If this plant were operating in 1985, in the USSR, the whole western world would be mercilessly hammering it as a resounding example of commie ideological obsession and economic self-vandalism, and may even have extrapolated a posit that the bankruptcy of the USSR was a foregone conclusion.
And we’d have been right, but fortunately this is in California, so it’s all good.

March 21, 2016 8:00 pm

“Ethanol from corn or other agricultural source doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of energy production.”
So what? Not all energy is created equal. Ethanol can be used for transportation fuel. In terms of energy production, you should eat the corn and walk. Worse yet , feed it to a horse and ride it.

Andyj
March 22, 2016 4:22 am

Ask any Egyptologist who studies mummies what is most striking about the dead… The lack of cancer.
\$19/MW I wish I could supply electricity for that. \$2BN outlay and free fuel for life. That’s CHEAP!!
Nukes burn fuel rods that are at least as expensive as platinum by weight. The only reason we went down the solid bar/uranium 238 route was to produce nuclear bombs. Its a dead end, chemically unstable end game that pollutes EVERYTHING it touches.
If you don’t believe me and seek a high paying job, (however short term your life will be. Go to Fukushima.

David
March 22, 2016 5:36 am

It is all those birds flying into the beams that is disrupting the efficiency of the plant. Once the windmills and future solar plant kill all the birds the sky is the limit. Plus those pesky birds exhale evil CO2.

Darin Knaus
March 22, 2016 5:46 am

I am a wholehearted global warming skeptic. But I wanted to point out that pretty much all sectors of the US energy industry are subsidized by the federal government:
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22858.pdf
including nuclear and fossil. Things cost more the first time that you try them, and it takes a lot of capital to try somethingona large scale like this. If we are going to develop new energy technologies there will need to be failures along the way. In my opinion the problem is not that we are trying things like Ivanpah, but that we are not spending more on things like new nuclear technology at the same time.