"Forget Godzilla, NYC Gets Monster-Sized 'Virtual' Solar Power Plant"

Guest post by David Middleton

Clean Technica


1.8 MW and 4 MWh of storage… Godzilla? Not even Ant-Man.

The  Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration combined cycle natural gas-fired power plant generates over 150,000 MWh of electricity in a typical month.

1.8 MW with a 25% capacity factor will generate 324 MWh per month.

How could any sane person call this “monster-sized.”  One typical natural gas power plant generates 500 times as much electricity as a Monster-Sized an Ant-Man-Sized “Virtual” Solar Power Plant.

 Source of featured image.


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June 15, 2016 8:27 am

..The Greens have lost touch with all reality !!

Reply to  Marcus
June 15, 2016 2:07 pm

One cannot lose what one does not have (and has never had).

Reply to  lowercasefred
June 17, 2016 4:19 am


June 15, 2016 8:27 am

How could any sane person call this “monster-sized? Simple. They’re not sane they’re delusional.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Bear
June 15, 2016 2:22 pm

Want to bet that Tina Casey went into journalism because there was no math requirement.

Reply to  Bear
June 15, 2016 3:57 pm

I’ve got an electric-fence solar charger that does more than THAT! 😉

Brian R
June 15, 2016 8:29 am

It’s “Monster-sized” to the small minded.

Reply to  Brian R
June 15, 2016 9:44 am

It’s a monster sized con-jobcomment image

June 15, 2016 8:31 am

Obviously, 100 roof top panels is 100 times as big as 1 roof top panel.
Any comparison to non roof top panel system is obviously invalid, since those systems aren’t supposed to exist in a perfect world.
(Do I really need to include the sarc tag?)

Tom Halla
June 15, 2016 8:34 am

More proof greens do not want to do math (or can’t).

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 15, 2016 10:16 am

Maths be hard.

June 15, 2016 8:36 am

And if I did my calculations correctly, the Brooklyn Naval Yard plant only generates about 208 MW, a pipsqueak generating station.

Reply to  David Middleton
June 15, 2016 9:55 am

And that’s across the East “River” from another 300MW from the 15th Street Manhattan plant .

Scott Basinger
Reply to  John
June 15, 2016 9:39 am

For further illustration, this ‘monster’ solar installation will generate 0.2% of the power that the Brooklyn Navel Yard plant will in a month.

Reply to  Scott Basinger
June 15, 2016 10:13 am

it is my understanding that feral seabirds may sabotage
this scheme by grot-bombing the panels with “whitewash”,
thus diminishing the returns to less than that calculated
by mathematical computer models. What is the average
through light transmission, in terms of a percentage through
this load of olde kaka. What are the potential corrosive effects
on the electrical wiring and metal parts of the caustic leachate ?
tentative formula ….
Current Flow(I)=Downward Opaline Nascent Total
Brightness of Electrical Light Incandescence Eliptical
Verifiable Electrical
Incandescence Time
or in other words …..
I=DONT-(BELIE)(VE)(IT)comment image

Randy in Ridgecrest
June 15, 2016 8:45 am

Kind of like fooling around with Sterling Cycle engines, what’s the point? I guess it’s to see just how feeble it really is.

June 15, 2016 8:46 am

Meanwhile, SunPower stock is up 1.26% today. Totally unrelated, I’m sure.

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  RH
June 15, 2016 9:18 am

I think you just hit the nail on the head. Follow the money. Do any of the decision makers on the government side own SunPower stocks? How about the lobbyists who strong armed the government decision makers?

June 15, 2016 8:46 am

I smell a monster-sized pile of excrement in this. The people being scammed are the fools who ‘invested’ in rooftop solar.

Reply to  tadchem
June 15, 2016 3:59 pm

The sum-total of their “investment” will be feeling “green” in their two-million-dollar flats full of bad furniture from Ikea.

Smart Rock
June 15, 2016 8:47 am

4 MWh of storage (doesn’t say what kind of storage) would supply 1.8 MW for 2 hours and 13 minutes. Then what?

Reply to  Smart Rock
June 15, 2016 9:04 am

Treadmills come to mind.

Reply to  MarkW
June 15, 2016 11:06 am

Finally! A use for eco-extremists and CAGW scare-mongerers!

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Smart Rock
June 15, 2016 10:04 am

Follow the link to the Clean Technica article for that.

Reply to  Smart Rock
June 16, 2016 10:17 am


Joel O’Bryan
June 15, 2016 8:47 am

Its intent is not to generate useable, economical electricity. The intent is an offering to the Climate Change deity, Gaia. Or you could also be viewed as a religious shrine evoke a favor from Gaia by preventing some amount of the evil “carbon pollution” gas into the atmosphere. Because, as the belief goes, if you don’t at least do something, Gaia is going to fry us. Take it on faith. And open your wallets.
Meanwhile, the solar panel crony capitalists continue to reap the rewards behind the scenes and funnel political $upport to Democrats.

June 15, 2016 8:50 am

It’s more than one and it is the capitol city of marketing mavens. What else do you need to know.

Mark from the Midwest
June 15, 2016 8:54 am

Once this mess is up and running watch the way that it will be described … the system “can” produce … it “could” replace … has the “potential” to … they will never say what it actually achieves. Watch the Greenies and the Libs, they always talk about something that might be, not about what really “is,” which really depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

June 15, 2016 8:55 am

It takes too much space, that’s how it’s monster.

Reply to  Hlaford
June 15, 2016 9:59 am

The roof area to living space ratio in the denser parts of NYC is hopelessly small . Better to make gardens .

June 15, 2016 8:58 am

SunPower: We put the Con in ConEdison.

June 15, 2016 9:04 am

David, you’re dealing with the results of a 15th century education in the 21st.


Reply to  Pointman
June 15, 2016 2:55 pm

Or it could be that those solar panel “scientists”
were taught by the legendary expert Mr. Figgis ?


Reply to  Pointman
June 15, 2016 4:01 pm

You seen the curriculum at Yale and Harvard lately? The “everyone gets a trophy” generation is spending their time studying underwater gender difference; and flunking Biology 101 while they’re at it!

bill johnston
Reply to  Goldrider
June 15, 2016 7:31 pm

“underwater gender difference”. Is that a credit course?

June 15, 2016 9:06 am

My guess is that “Monster” refers to the paperwork and red tape this will have to go through.

Alan Robertson
June 15, 2016 9:13 am

It’s the importance of the message and the result is unimportant.

Bruce Cobb
June 15, 2016 9:27 am

I’m getting a monster-sized headache reading about it.

June 15, 2016 9:33 am

This is the sort of thing that happens when people who do not know are not aware that they do not know.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
June 15, 2016 11:09 am

You mean the Dunning-Krugerandians?

Reply to  PiperPaul
June 15, 2016 4:55 pm

Not necessarily. Ignorance can be fixed. Stupid is forever

Tom Murphy
June 15, 2016 9:41 am

The “monster-sized” labeling has far more to do with the physical connections needed to link 300 locations to one storage source rather than the actual electric output or storage capability. These connections will likely require (1) adding additional conductors to existing or new distribution feeders and/or (2) committing “x” amount of load to an existing conductor. Either way, this results in a monster-sized inefficiency within an electrical grid built specifically and historically for reliability. if you were to evaluate this project from a global warming potential, I believe it represents a negative for the environment (at least initially) when compared to more traditional (i.e., fossil fuel) generation sources. More troubling, though, is the deliberate introduction of multiple points of failure on an otherwise reliable system – that’s just dumb from any engineering perspective.

Reply to  Tom Murphy
June 15, 2016 11:54 am

Wiring up 300 different rooftops in NYC would seem prohibitive.

Reply to  Gamecock
June 15, 2016 4:02 pm

Chambers Street has had a Grand-Canyon-sized ditch in it for three years. Any questions?

Reply to  Gamecock
June 15, 2016 6:10 pm

Yeah . . . union labor?

June 15, 2016 9:53 am

I’m still trying to think of what the “storage” could be.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  captainfish
June 15, 2016 10:06 am
Steve Fraser
Reply to  captainfish
June 15, 2016 10:12 am

Option, Local to the home, from sunverge.

Reply to  captainfish
June 15, 2016 5:27 pm

Here is a picture of 100’s of GWH of stored “Solar Energy”.
there’s over 200KWH in this small 25Kg bagcomment image
Here is a picture of alternative solar energy storage in action.comment image
No birds were roasted or sliced
by these lo-tech storage solutions.

Thomas Homer
June 15, 2016 10:26 am

I suppose it won’t be long before there’s a Shade-Tax. If your solar installation can’t generate enough power because your property is in the shadow of a few high-rises, someone has to pay, right?

Reply to  Thomas Homer
June 15, 2016 4:40 pm

In Maryland, people on well and septic pay a “rain tax” because, Hey you’re not paying a water bill, and you can’t get away with THAT, can you?

Ian L. McQueen
Reply to  James Schrumpf
June 16, 2016 3:17 pm

James Schrumpf, your “rain tax” sounds a lot like the “road tax” that we pay on motor fuel. What the proponents of electric vehicles never mention is where the money is going to come from to maintain the highways that the fuel tax is now supposed to.
Ian M

Ernest Bush
Reply to  James Schrumpf
June 19, 2016 9:50 am

@Ian – don’t worry, both the federal government and state governments have a plan for that. However, a total switchover will not happen, anyway. The grid system and the United States government will both collapse long before that fantasy happens.

June 15, 2016 10:31 am

To put this in context regarding baseload power generation see our article “Going Solar-System Requirements For 100% U.S. Solar Generated Utility Baseload Electricity” which goes through the science, math, and economics of solar power. http://fusion4freedom.us/going-solar/ Fossil fuels and nuclear (fission today and fusion for the grandkids) are the only realistic alternatives.

June 15, 2016 10:35 am

Did you notice these points:
The idea behind the Con Edison venture is to create a virtual solar power plant with the specific aim of not having to build an extra “peaker” plant to supply extra power to the grid during peak use periods
In case of a widespread power outage, the home owner can draw electricity from their own battery
This battery design is I believe smart enough to provide power at points where grid electricity cost is higher (I don’t know if NY has differential pricing).

Reply to  David Middleton
June 16, 2016 1:03 am

Its big for a virtual solar plant – this is in first half dozen rolled out by conventional power companies (one other equivalent in suburban Oz).
This is the future for (conventional) power companies – it means they don’t need to build more plant/string more power lines to meet increased demand

Reply to  Griff
June 15, 2016 1:24 pm

I just love it when you Green bedwetters wax ecstatic over the merits of batteries – one of the most ecologically destructive artefacts that technology has managed to create. Solar panels – particularly the inverters and control circuitry – aren’t particularly brilliant either.
But hey Grifter, who cares about a few hundred square miles of utter devastation, along with massive damage to the health of those unlucky to be dwelling there, on the other side of the planet, when you little bedwetters are ‘Saving the World™’?

Reply to  catweazle666
June 16, 2016 1:00 am

You saving the world much?
Off topic, I know you were a DT poster… you know how/where AlecM is? If you post on any of same forums, please pass on my regards: though we could not be further apart in viewpoint, he has a great sense of humour and I loved his jokes.

Reply to  Griff
June 17, 2016 8:27 am

“You saving the world much?”
A great deal more than you, I suspect. The family fortune (such as it is) is based on over half a century of recycling of waste amounting to many millions of tons, starting decades before it became fashionable. I have been using low energy bulbs ever since they appeared decades ago, my house is fully insulated and for daily transport I run an elderly turbo diesel Mercedes that does around 45MPG mostly on rapeseed oil.
All of the above are purely a matter of economics, with no ulterior motive, of course.
I have sat on the committee of a number of charitable trusts, on one in particular I was able through my engineering experience to save the trust many thousands of pounds per annum in electricity and gas bills, and with the exception of my disagreement with the CAGW brigade I would consider myself a convinced and effective environmentalist.
Alec is alive and well over at Breitbart.

John Harmsworth
June 15, 2016 10:45 am

You’re all using the wrong math! Look at the dollars this turkey idea involves. That gets you to huge. Then examine the payback, including opportunity cost. That gets you to infinity.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  John Harmsworth
June 15, 2016 10:46 am

Extrapolate to AGW to get infinite density.

June 15, 2016 11:02 am

New York is no stranger to whackadoodle ventures. In 1869 Scientific American promoted the construction of a pneumatic subway in New York. It lasted from 1870-1873.
“The Beach Pneumatic Transit was the first attempt to build an underground public transit system in New York City. It was developed by Alfred Ely Beach in 1869 as a demonstration subway line running on pneumatic power. As the subway line had one stop and a one-car shuttle going back and forth, it was merely a novelty and not a regular mode of transport. It lasted from 1870 until 1873.”
I’m sure they claimed it would be the model for subways worldwide. What went wrong? The leather seals didn’t last, them not having access to petroleum based plastics. For the solar project, I’ll put my money on the bird kaka and the cost of union kakacleaners.
Oh wait, there’s the issue of networking all these electrical generators and getting it to work right. I suggest going back to the wisdom of 1865 – connect all the treadmills in NY together with a system of shafts and pulleys, running down to and under the streets, pumping water to rooftop pumped storage units and finally driving a mighty 100 Watt Edison generator that he promises will be ready by 1873 and a yet to be invented light bulb. Substitute iPhone for light bulb.

Reply to  Markopanama
June 15, 2016 11:12 am

And now there’s Hyperloop.

Rhoda R
Reply to  Markopanama
June 15, 2016 7:17 pm

What or who will deal with the sky fried pigeons?

bill johnston
Reply to  Rhoda R
June 15, 2016 7:39 pm

I thought this was passive solar. No fricassee of pigeon here.

June 15, 2016 11:27 am

Monstrosity in physical size, monster in expense, monstrously wasteful?

June 15, 2016 12:16 pm

It certainly isn’t huge(yet). It’s a pilot programme- they want to give the idea(Rooftop solar with battery) a test drive. Like a “proof of principle” test. Be interesting to see how it works out.

Pamela Gray
June 15, 2016 12:21 pm

Any and all use of Land, Sun, Wind, Fire, and Water will eventually be perpetually taxed. That is the purpose of wind and solar power generation. It certainly is not to provide “greener” power.

June 15, 2016 2:32 pm

Wait a minute! Aren’t all these “roof-top” solar installations already using most(or all) of the power they’re generating anyway? And aren’t they “technically” connected to the grid already?

June 15, 2016 2:45 pm

Maybe they meant “monster sized” in the context of how much physical space it wastes (or its cost)?
Oh well, land in NYC is basically worthless, like in the Navajo Desert, right?

June 15, 2016 5:06 pm

Monster Sized
Physically yes : panels and batteries all over the place
Output no : less than 20% capacity factor from the panels and the piddly storage (would power only 1000 households using 4 kWh for one hour) doesn’t help that at all – Greens don’t understand that storage doesn’t generate any electricity on its own.
Greens hate maths because being able to do and understand maths destroys their hopeful fantasies

Reply to  Analitik
June 15, 2016 5:07 pm

sorry, that should have been “using 4 kW“, not kWh

June 15, 2016 5:29 pm

There is a lot of information they’ve not released yet.

“…recruit hundreds of home owners…”

Recruit? With what bait? What rate subsidies will NYC promise the homeowners?

“…connect more than 1.8 megawatts of solar power…”

Aand there are how many fully self solar powered homes out there?
leaving just how many dregs of solar power per homeowner that just might be available during the sunniest of days?
Couple that with what must be a very expensive contractor devised plan, yet to be developed connection costs, some sort of central lame battery storage idea, not forgetting the homeowner lure they haven’t told us about.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 16, 2016 4:46 am

I thought they just wanted roof space and would take all the power, and then give the property owner a discount/rebate of some kind.

June 16, 2016 5:13 am

Con Edison? Con is right.

chris y
June 16, 2016 5:40 am

So what about the cost for this?
First assumption is that all of the installed equipment is meticulously maintained, with snow and ice and bird droppings and leaves and dust removed when necessary by the homeowners so that output capacity is close to predictions.
With 1.8 MW capacity and 300 homes, that comes to 6 kW AC capacity for each home.
With 4 MWhr usable storage and 300 homes, that comes to 13.3 kWhr of storage per home.
That means the Sunverge battery system for each home is probably the SIS 19.4, with 6 kW maximum output and 16.5 kWhr of usable storage for 7000 cycles.
Price is $20,000.
Or $1200 per kWhr of usable storage when new.
That needs to be tied to a solar PV system with 5 kW AC or 6 kWDC capacity.
At the CA average installed cost of $5.28/WDC, that adds another $31,700 to the bill.
The article also says homeowners will be able to operate certain items during a power outage. This likely requires additional circuits to be added in the home that are fed only by the Sunverge battery/inverter system. Add another $3,000 for that.
Total cost per household is about $55,000.
$16.5 Million for 300 homes.
Now add in the costs on Con Edison’s side for integrating the SIS data and control into the existing distribution control system. This could easily be a $20 Million project, especially if they are designing for future expansion.

Reply to  chris y
June 16, 2016 6:38 am

Interesting, Chris – lets take the math a bit further, shall we?
1.8 mw = 1800 kw;
NREL says NY gets between 4.0 and 4.5 kwh/m^2 annualized so:
(I make the assumption that the 1.8 mw figure is based on 1m^2 panel = 1 kw power)
1800 X 4.5 = 8100 kwh/day 8100 X 365 (days/yr) X 20 years = 59,130,000 kwh over 20 years.
$16,500,000 / 59,130,000 = $.279 / kwh over the 20 year lifespan of the panels
According to Forbes, the current electricity rate in NY is about $.25/kwh, though it’s expected to go up. The rest of the US averages about $.14, so NY is already paying extra for electricity.
All this assumes ZERO additional costs for maintenance, breakage/failure, cleaning, etc. (I also didn’t include ConEd’s costs)
I am also more than a bit leery of NREL’s 4.5 kw/m^2 annualized figure – that seems high to me, perhaps I’m not reading their map correctly? I wonder if that figure is for sunny days only or if it includes weather days? I got it at this page : http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html

chris y
Reply to  Hartley Gardner
June 16, 2016 3:03 pm

This is a good website for insolation data collected by NREL over multiple years for various solar panel installation types-
The Central Park data for fixed tilt at latitude is 4.6 kwh/m^2/day, which basically agrees with what you found. I think it is a pretty reliable number as it is based on measured data in-situ (it is marked as a primary station site by NREL).
But it assumes the surface is never encumbered with snow, debris, dust, shadows, etc.

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