Oh my – Ivanpah meets Margaret Hamilton

I have no idea of what to make of this, except to make a quick post here. Margaret Hamilton is a computer scientist/software engineer responsible for much of the on-board Apollo computer system, a rather amazing piece of technology from the 1960s that got Apollo astronauts to the moon and back. Ivanpah is a thermal solar energy system comprised of many mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a tower to power a heat engine that makes electricity.  It’s a rather amazing piece of 2010s technology that has never quite worked right.

What do you do with the mirrors at night? Apparently make a tribute to Margaret Hamilton in the moonlight.  I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

Ivanpah solar mirrors configured for moonlit artwork

See the full story at Her software put men on the moon. Fifty years later, Margaret Hamilton got a glowing moonlit tribute.

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Gunga Din
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 19, 2019 9:08 pm

I understand why it had to go but I do miss the “edit” function. 😎

[I appreciate having the power! However, there’s a mostly invisible force that makes demons start looking over one’s shoulders when fixing a main post. WUWT does a good job of admitting and preserving mistakes in serious posts. On the plus side, it’s good impetus to not post a mistake in the first place! -Ric]

Bryan A
Reply to  Gunga Din
July 19, 2019 9:39 pm

The only thing missing is the smoke

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 11:05 am

It’s better as paid billboard space than taxpayer money pit that never worked right.

Fixed it for you.

James Bull
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 21, 2019 5:07 am

At least they’ve found some use for it as it doesn’t do what it was built for!

James Bull

Tom Halla
July 19, 2019 7:48 pm

At last! Some use for that rent-seeking kludge! Of course, the bird incinerator is otherwise a monument to rent-seeking virtue signalling, rather than a reasonable effort to have an actual power supply.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 19, 2019 9:45 pm

+1001

first decent use of a solar array to date

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Leo Smith
July 20, 2019 7:56 am

#metoo

J.H.
July 19, 2019 8:07 pm

Lot’s of people’s software put men on the moon…. and not all of it worked as it should. Apollo 11’s Lander’s main computer kept shutting down during the landing because the programming didn’t allow it to compute the altitude and radar data as it was supposed to… etc.

So in the wasteful world of subsidized “Renewable” energy, we are subjected to the political vanity of women writ large on mirrors in the moonlight….. Fitting and ironic.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 19, 2019 8:28 pm

I thought someone with a similar name played the Wicked Witch of the West in the original Wizard of Oz.

Trevor
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 20, 2019 2:48 am
Speed
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 20, 2019 3:31 am

Same name.

“Margaret had already built her resume with several performances in film before she came to her most memorable and astronomically successful role, Almira Gulch/ The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939). The character is considered to be one of the screen’s greatest and most memorable villains of all time.”

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002121/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

commieBob
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 20, 2019 3:47 am

Oh my – Ivanpah meets Margaret Hamilton

That reminds me of:

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

beng135
Reply to  commieBob
July 20, 2019 5:29 am

Or my favorite Wicked Witch quote:

“Well! Ring around the Rosie, a pocket full of spears. Thought you’d be pretty foxy, didn’t you? Well, the last to go will see the first three go before her. And her mangy little dog too.”

brians356
Reply to  J.H.
July 19, 2019 10:00 pm

“Lot’s”? Why the possessive apostrophe? Lose it.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  brians356
July 20, 2019 8:48 am

+1

Gunga Din
Reply to  brians356
July 20, 2019 1:42 pm

While driving the other day I saw a sign that said, “Lots for sale.”
I don’t know why people can’t be more specific.

Taphonomic
Reply to  brians356
July 20, 2019 3:21 pm

Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt.

Gary Mount
Reply to  J.H.
July 20, 2019 2:17 am

What really happened with the guidance computer during the landing procedure:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/vintagespace/2018/01/05/apollo-11s-1202-alarm-explained/

David Hood
July 19, 2019 8:07 pm

At last.
They have found something positive to do with the site.

Russell Cook
Reply to  David Hood
July 19, 2019 9:06 pm

Using up the energy saved in batteries they generate during the day to move the mirrors around at night?

Mike Bryant
Reply to  Russell Cook
July 20, 2019 1:31 am

I would wager they’re using grid energy for the display. Ivanpah is useless… a display meant for a point in space where a drone is stationed to snap a picture. Precious…

Mechanik
Reply to  Mike Bryant
July 20, 2019 7:47 am

Ivanpah has natural gas generators to keep the sodium in a liquid state overnight. As a side effect, it generates power all night long. The excess power is fed into the local grid, making the entire “solar” power system somewhat profitable.

DonM
Reply to  Mechanik
July 22, 2019 5:43 pm

1) use ONLY gas generators
2) build it nearer users

Tada, somewhat profitable … even without the subsidies.

Mechanik
Reply to  DonM
July 22, 2019 6:23 pm

Hmmmm…. maybe skip the massive amount of natural gas it takes to keep the sodium liquid and just generate electricity instead.

No, that’s crazy talk.

John F. Hultquist
July 19, 2019 8:10 pm

Ivanpah is good for something.
Now they can start selling rights — Pepsi, Apple, Tesla, Sanders . . .

R Shearer
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 19, 2019 9:30 pm

World’s largest Etch-a-Sketch

Greg
Reply to  R Shearer
July 19, 2019 9:55 pm

at 3,500 acres it’s the worlds largest bill board. “The only billboard which can be seen from space “. Great potential.

Maybe Anonymous can hack it and do us a Snowden tribute for next month !!

Curious George
Reply to  Greg
July 20, 2019 9:00 am

I wonder – is this a show for airline pilots only? Can mere mortals see it?

Greg
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 19, 2019 9:46 pm

Outstanding ideas there, both of you. Ivanpah is the worlds largest billboard !

That could help them pay the penalties for failing to fulfill contractual minima for electricity production.

I’m not a negative as most here about this project but designing it without storage was stupid. Failing to address the question of frying birds, one wonders why. It’s an obvious problem. They spent so much time and money worrying about moving tortoises but could not work out about the birds.

Like so many such projects, it was designed to fail.

http://ivanpahsolar.com/

Service Unavailable
The service is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Classic. I guess they have a solar powered web site. Come back when the sun is shining !!

Donald L. Klipstein
Reply to  Greg
July 22, 2019 7:16 pm

“That could help them pay the penalties for failing to fulfill contractual minima for electricity production. ”

Nope

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-01/nrg-s-massive-california-solar-plant-finally-making-enough-power

steve case
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 12:32 am

The Milwaukee to San Francisco flight goes right over it. At least the three times I’ve taken that ride it did.

R Shearer
Reply to  steve case
July 20, 2019 6:14 am

That doesn’t make sense. Ivanpah is SW of Las Vegas.

steve case
Reply to  R Shearer
July 20, 2019 7:34 am

R Shearer July 20, 2019 at 6:14 am
That doesn’t make sense. Ivanpah is SW of Las Vegas.

Maybe there’s another solar/mirror farm that I saw. After looking at a photo I took this last time
comment image
it is a different solar array (-:

Thanks for pointing that out. I had always assumed it was Ivanpah

Taphonomic
Reply to  steve case
July 20, 2019 3:36 pm

That picture looks more like Crescent Dunes. another solar project that is a dismal failure.

Juan Slayton
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
July 19, 2019 9:04 pm

Good thinking. Charge on a 14 level sliding scale: Prime time pricing on a full moon, prices dropping to zero on a new moon. Perhaps Citizen Sanders could get in down there somewhere. : > )

kakatoa
Reply to  Juan Slayton
July 20, 2019 8:07 am

The Bechtel team that got their Process Excellence Black Belts developing the algorithms to optimize the tracking system and the time to operate the natural gas facility could assist with developing that sliding scale.

https://www.power-eng.com/articles/print/volume-117/issue-10/features/bechtel-uses-six-sigma-to-drive-performance-at-ivanpah-solar-facility.html

As the natural gas plant is used to prime the pump currently one could always evaluate of there would be a demand for custom colors to be included in the pricing options, via adding a few led’s to the mirrors, to broaden the marketing plan.

July 19, 2019 8:21 pm

Be nice, people – someone actually found a practical use for that boondoggle.

I have no issue with it being Margaret Hamilton, either. Unlike today, female programmers in those days had to have much bigger cerebral parts to get to the top, not just the parts that are attached lower down.

rbabcock
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 5:46 am

I’ve employed quite a few programmers over the years and the best ones seemed to be English majors for some reason. The two best of the best I ever had was both a guy and a girl.

The most interesting thing in the programming world is you either have it or you don’t. Not a lot of in-between. Maybe there is a gene that controls it. Kind of like those people who can pick up a foreign language in a week versus me who has issues with just one language.

Philip
Reply to  rbabcock
July 20, 2019 7:53 am

After graduating (Computer Science) I stayed on to try my hand at a PhD. Not having any grant, I worked for the department giving a few courses, running lab sessions and taking some tutorials.

As lowest on the totem pole, I got what they considered the oddball cases, people doing non science stuff like English, Psychology, Politics etc. (This was a dual honors University).

I agree that people doing languages did better. I think it had a lot to do with their better understanding of the relation between language and the semantics that it is representing.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 12:25 pm

Generally I’ve found that people who are ADHD or somewhere on the mild side of the autistic spectrum make the best software engineers.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 6:01 am

Women, at least one woman, were in the very forefront of computer programming even before electronic computers had been invented. Remember Ada, Lady Lovelace?

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  Ric Werme
July 20, 2019 8:07 am

Ric

In that era there were many women working for Rockwell programming ICBMs as well. I met one once and she told me they wrote programmes in Assembly language and were always on the hunt for a way to save a as couple of bits.

I asked why and she said targeting was pretty clumsy. When Kennedy was threatening to nuke Moscow the precision of the landing about a 150 mile radius. Huh, I replied? Why so inaccurate?

She replied the earth is not round, gravity varies, and the ICBMs were guided by the stars so targeting was based on a star map loaded into memory just before launch. As memory in a rocket was only 4KB there wasn’t much room for precise calculations, or maps. Try it sometime!

All those sable-rattling threats were so much puffery. The only way to hit Moscow was statistically, throwing 50 of them in that general direction.

Not many code jockeys these days have seen Assembly written from scratch! Who could follow it?

Back in the day my buddies and I started with Fortran 4. These women were apparently neat and careful. Lots of men are not. My son sums up Canadian coders up as “lazy and sloppy.” That can’t be generally true, I hope.

If you go to Tennessee and see who applies alcohol stains to furniture in the factories they are typically women over forty. It is very difficult. They have the calm touch required, I was told. We are not created equal. I support the “either are, or are not” assessment.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
July 20, 2019 8:56 am

“sable-rattling”

Are sable really that intimidating? Though I’m having a laugh picturing what this might look like.

jbfl
Reply to  Writing Observer
July 20, 2019 7:14 am

I agree. It’s there. Offer us a little Nostalgia. Better than nothing (assuming it produces enough power to reposition itself. How about if it can track airliners to give the passengers a treat.

Sky King
July 19, 2019 9:19 pm

Kudos to her! So much innovation to make it all happen. In the entire scheme of things, Armstrong and Aldrin were almost just along for the ride, something Armstrong humbly suggested many times.

Being it CNN, I see we have to acknowledge bring your child to work one day and a child’s contribution to Apollo. I am sure she would never thought about the safeguard without the child. /sarc

I am surprised that we are not hearing that she was earning half what men programmers earned at the time. /sarc

Mark S Jordon
Reply to  Sky King
July 21, 2019 10:47 am

Chuck Yeager called astronauts “spam in a can”
as they did not do any real piloting. Now they do some landing on the moon was a good example

Lee l
July 19, 2019 9:27 pm

It IS late and I HAVE sipped but I still believe I can overthink it.

I read the Ivanpah headline and immediately decided it must refer to The Donald .. you know.
… PA of IVAN-ka?

“What was he doing meeting Margaret Hamilton and what was his latest ‘Oh My’? ” thought I.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  Lee l
July 20, 2019 8:18 am

Ric

In that era there were many women working for Rockwell programming ICBMs as well. I met one once and she told me they wrote programmes in Assembly language and were always on the hunt for a way to save a as couple of bits.

I asked why and she said targeting was pretty clumsy. When Kennedy was threatening to nuke Moscow the precision of the landing about a 150 mile radius. Huh, I replied? Why so inaccurate?

She replied the earth is not round, gravity varies, and the ICBMs were guided by the stars so targeting was based on a star map loaded into memory just before launch. As memory in a rocket was only 4KB there wasn’t much room for precise calculations, or maps. Try it sometime!

All those sable-rattling threats were so much puffery. The only way to hit Moscow was statistically, throwing 50 of them in that general direction.

Not many code jockeys these days have seen Assembly written from scratch! Who could follow it?

Back in the day my buddies and I started with Fortran 4. These women were apparently neat and careful. Lots of men are not. My son sums up Canadian coders up as “lazy and sloppy.” That can’t be generally true, I hope.

If you go to Tennessee and see who applies alcohol stains to furniture in the factories they are typically women over forty. It is very difficult. They have the calm touch required, I was told. We are not created equal. I support the “either are, or are not” assessment.

Pop Piasa
July 19, 2019 9:32 pm

At least no birds died in this application of that insidious technology.

Javert Chip
July 19, 2019 9:45 pm

Ok, I’m guessing whom ever it is babysitting Ivanpah after dark actually used power from the grid (Southern California Edison) for this display.

Greg
July 19, 2019 9:51 pm

To judge by the number of bright pixels on that image ( and assuming that there are a similar number of mis-oriented dark ones which do not stand out ), there is a significant percentage of failure in the drive mechanisms to the mirrors.

Such a night view with a test pattern may be a good way to identify them and get a maintenance crew down there !

noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2019 10:12 pm

For this installation, on a clear, full-moon night at its zenith, what is the temperature when all mirrors are concentrated on the tower compared to the same with the sun at its zenith during the day?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2019 11:07 pm

42 ?

Bill Murphy
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2019 11:34 pm

A grossly over simplified 10 second calc — Nameplate for the plant is 392MW and full Sun is about 400,000 times brighter than full Moon so that leaves about 980 watts. Of course the 392MW is power output after all the thermodynamic loss in electric conversion, not gross energy on the towers, so if all the mirrors were tracking the moon there might be a few kW hitting the towers. Not any real power but it might be bright enough to blind any stray night flying owls.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2019 11:42 pm

That answer begins with a full moon being about 400,000 times dimmer than the sun. What’s interesting to an amateur astronomer is that while in the eyepiece of a common telescope a bright moonscape seems exceptionally bright to a reasonably dark-adapted eye (and so invites some filtration to reduce the intensity), it is no brighter than a typical sunlit afternoon landscape (and therefore photographs with similar exposure settings).

Ed Zuiderwijk
July 20, 2019 1:29 am

What a pity she didn’t work on climate models afterwards. Those could have done with someone who knew what she was doing.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
July 20, 2019 3:02 am

yeah well the second part…someone who knew what they were doing…
is why she DIDNT get the climate model job;-))

meiggs
July 20, 2019 6:37 am

Ivan is US tax payer funded R&D for foreign countries. Follow the money.

https://www.energy.gov/lpo/ivanpah

Owners BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy, Google

ResourceGuy
July 20, 2019 11:32 am

Al Gore is breaking in line to be next. He invented don’t ya know.

Editor
July 20, 2019 2:46 pm

Magnificent! What a fabulous creative idea!

Regardless of anything else (appropriateness, economic value, etc) the IDEA is so strikingly CREATIVE

u.k.(us)
July 20, 2019 3:33 pm

Is an idea even an idea if not run properly through the media gauntlet ?

whiten
July 20, 2019 3:46 pm

Catchphrase; “mirror”.


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairer of all?”
“I the mirror on the wall am the fairer of all,,, oh well since July 1969, that is,,, hah.”

cheers

steve case
July 21, 2019 5:18 am

The bottom line? A total waste of money – a total boondoggle

Yes indeed.

When George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” he chose the windmill to represent the boondoggles that oppressive governments promote in order to create an appearance of progress.

Donald L. Klipstein
July 22, 2019 7:09 pm

“2010s technology that has never quite worked right.”
….
Sorry Ric, it’s working fine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanpah_Solar_Power_Facility#Ivanpah_Total_(392_MW_gross)

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
July 22, 2019 7:31 pm

Capacity factor
23.2% (2018 actual) / 27.4% (Planned)

Considering the fact that it’s a solar power plant in the fracking desert, it couldn’t possibly suck any worse. The “planned” output doesn’t even reach p!$$ poor… and the fracking bird-frying monstrosity has never even achieved p!$$ poor.

Donald L. Klipstein
Reply to  David Middleton
July 22, 2019 8:55 pm

Sorry to inform you David, but the facility is working fine. Do the math: 23.2/27.4 It has reached contractual performance way back in 2/2017: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-01/nrg-s-massive-california-solar-plant-finally-making-enough-power

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
July 23, 2019 2:19 am

23% capacity factor for a solar power plant in a southwest US desert is not “doing fine,” 27% wouldn’t even be “doing fine.”

Much less expensive and far less destructive solar PV power plants in similar settings routinely top 33%. The fracking average capacity factor for solar PV plants, including those idiotically built in places like New York is 29%.

This is like saying that Robert Hoover’s GPA was “doing fine”…

The world’s biggest solar-thermal power plant is finally producing enough electricity.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Southern California initially failed to meet contractual obligations, and a yearlong forbearance deal with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. expired Wednesday. After fine-tuning the complex facility that uses 170,000 mirrors, output is up and it’s no longer at risk of defaulting on the deal, according to David Knox, a spokesman for operator and co-owner NRG Energy Inc.

Contracting for p!$$ poor performance was stupid. Describing barely achieving p!$$ poor performance as “doing fine” is Bluto Blutarsky stupid.

kakatoa
July 23, 2019 5:19 am

Last year Albert evaluated the performance of various CSP projects:

https://qualityassuranceofclimatestudies.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/solar-tower-with-thermal-energy-storage-a-consolidated-technology-with-a-single-plant-of-decent-size-built-on-earth-producing-less-than-30-of-the-planned-electricity/

“Ivanpah has no thermal energy storage, but boost by combustion of natural gas. So far, it has been able to reach a 21.29% annual capacity factor only not accounting for the significant natural gas combustion. As the natural gas can be burned better in a combined cycle gas turbine plant, the actual annual capacity factor is reduced to 14.42% when corrected for the consumption of natural gas in a combined cycle gas turbine plant.”

Plant level output data will be updated by the EIA tomorrow.

Pete Danko discussed how the natural gas use at the plant was increased a few years back-

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ivanpah-solar-plant-falling-short-of-expected-electricity-production

The division of rate payer advocates recommended that the PPA contracts with PG&E be renegotiated a few years back. http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M159/K638/159638029.PDF

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