From Peanuts to Power: The Jimmy Carter Solar Farm

Guest “anatomy of green propaganda” by David Middleton

An old high school friend of mine posted this article on his Facebook page over the weekend:

Former U.S President Jimmy Carter Builds A Solar Farm To Power Half His Hometown.
Posted on: September 25, 2019

A true leader at heart, forever giving power to the people. Literally.

The 39th President of the United States (1977-1981), Jimmy Earl Carter, supported the solar energy industry when he installed 32 panels in the White House for water heating 1979.

A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people,” he had said [1]

One of his predictions did come true as solar energy has become of the fastest-growing energy industries in the world. Today, the 94-year-old’s solar has a solar farm that is supplying 50% of all the energy used in his home town of Plains, Georgia [2]. He signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power to expand the growth on clean, renewable energy in the state.


According to estimations from the company, the solar panel will continue to generate massive amounts of energy if properly-maintained every year, with a target of 55 million kWh over the next 25 years. The technology is state-of-the-art, with powerful single-axis solar trackers installed to direct the panels towards the sunrays. This will maximize energy capture and reduce labor intensity.


The carbon footprint in the town would be massively reduced with the distribution of clean energy. Solar energy can supply every industrial and domestic appliance it’s supplied to, and it’s especially easy to maintain the farms. It’s freely available from the sun every day and when it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons, the energy reserves would still be enough to cater to the people’s power needs.


The Hearty Soul
  1. “A solar farm that is supplying 50% of all the energy used in his home town of Plains, Georgia”… Unless all of the cars, trucks and tractors are EV’s, the solar farm is not supplying 50% of the *energy* used in the town.
  2. “When it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons, the energy reserves”… What “energy reserves”?

My friend in Connecticut is a Republican and a YUGE Trump supporter, so he’s not one to hawk green propaganda. But, he is a musician… He may not have picked up on the absurdity of this.

My first thought about Jimmy Carter’s Peanut Solar Farm was: Unmitigated Horst Schist! My second thought was that I needed more information. So, I turned to the always hilarious Clean Tecnica’s Steve Hanley…

Jimmy Carter Builds 1.3 Megawatt Solar Farm For His Hometown Of Plains, Georgia

February 14th, 2017 by Steve Hanley

Originally published on Solar Love.

Jimmy Carter, America’s 39th president, left office under a cloud. His presidency was forever tainted by his famous speech to the American people advising them to wear sweaters in a time of rising energy prices. He was also made to look weak by Ronald Reagan and his band of merry pranksters when a mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran was aborted due to sand getting into the engines of the helicopters.

Reagan later sprang his “October Surprise” just before the election in 1980.


While in office, Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House and a solar hot water heater.


Shortly after Reagan occupied the White House, he had the solar panels ripped out and thrown in the trash. You can watch a short video about one of America’s first solar initiatives below.

Now Carter has leased 10 acres of land near his home in Plains, Georgia. Working with SolAmerica, a 1.3 megawatt solar farm has been constructed on the land. Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains — more than half the town’s annual electrical consumption.



Was that better than the Hearty Soul article? Peter Quill says…

Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains — more than half the town’s annual electrical consumption.

  1. Plains, Georgia has a population of about 500 people. I really doubt they are consuming 100 million kWh of electricity per year.
  2. If Plains, Georgia had no clouds and the sun shined 24/7/365, 1.3 MW would only generate 11.4 million kWh.

When all else fails, check the website of the company that built the solar farm.

SolAmerica Energy Launches 1.3 MW Solar Project on President Carter’s Farm in Plains, Georgia
Former President and renewable energy advocate Jimmy Carter leases 10-acre site to help harvest the power of the sun

January 27, 2017 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy (“SolAmerica”), a leading solar development and construction firm, will be having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its latest solar project, on February 8, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. to Noon (Eastern) in Plains, Georgia. Former President Jimmy Carter leased a 10-acre site in his hometown to SolAmerica for development of the 1.3 MW solar project, which will provide over 50% of the power needs of the City of Plains.


SolAmerica developed, engineered and installed the single-axis tracker solar array on Carter’s property. Over the next 25 years, the system is projected to generate over 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy in Plains.



So, the Hearty Soul failed to include some essential numbers and CleanTecnica’s Steve Hanley conflated things in the wrongest way imaginable. 1.3 MW generating 55 million kWh over 25 years works out to a 19% capacity factor. The Jimmy Carter Peanut Solar Farm was expected to generate an average of about 5,900 kWh/d, covering more than half of a tiny town’s electricity demand. Yet, it doesn’t show up on the EIA map of Georgia energy infrastructure.

Figure 1. GEORGIA State Profile and Energy Estimates (EIA)

If I pan out, we can see that there are other solar generating stations within about 100 km. To the south, near Albany, there’s a USMC Logistics Base solar array, to the northwest, there’s a US Army solar array at Fort Benning and to the north, there’s the 101 MW White Pine Solar, LLC facility. Since its first full month in operation, White Pine has averaged a 23% capacity factor. During sunny months, it ranges from 25-31%. “When it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons,” it ranges from 12-19%… with no energy reserves, as there are no battery facilities anywhere nearby.

Figure 2. Solar generating stations “near” Plains.
Georgia has one 1 MW battery facility (+ symbol northwest of Atlanta), nowhere near Plains.

Which state is the one buried in solar farms?

The mass of solar facilities to the northeast of Georgia stands out like a Solyndra bankruptcy. The California of the Southeast is North Carolina.

North Carolina solar power generating stations.

Surely, North Carolina must get most of its electricity from solar power!

North Carolina electricity generation by source (EIA).

Solar power accounted for less than 7% of North Carolina’s electricity generation in September 2019. Fossil fuels (61%) and nuclear power (29%) accounted for 90% of North Carolina’s electricity generation. “Surely you can’t be serious!”

Concluding Remarks

  1. I could have figured out what the real numbers were from the Hearty Soul and Clean Tecnica articles, but it was more fun to do it the way I did it.
  2. The Jimmy Carter Peanut Solar Farm doesn’t show up on the EIA map because it probably isn’t in operation yet. But, I doubt that the Hearty Souls realize this… And I seriously doubt that most Facebook readers would have recognized the idiocy of the article.
  3. Yes, I know North Carolina isn’t in Georgia… But whenever I see a map covered with solar PV facilities… I just have to do the math.

Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter… A Classic!

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January 14, 2020 2:09 am

Thanks, David. As always, a fact-filled and entertaining post.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
January 14, 2020 5:06 am

This time, Jimmy’s done some “Orange Sunshine” with his electric koolaid acid solar test. What a PERFECT conclusion to your reality-based take on Jimmy’s un real solar debacle.

Reply to  Kenji
January 14, 2020 6:01 am

I fondly recall when SNL was funny.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
January 14, 2020 7:39 am

Gosh, for such a useful, instead of useless, resource it sure drops dead at state lines. I’d assume that somewhere North Carolina residents are being fleeced in ways that Alabama residents have not, because of Democrats and also some feckless hopefully primaried Republicans. Weird how solar follows the dollar instead of the sun.

John Larson
January 14, 2020 3:34 am

It would be great to have created a map of rural South Dakota, prior to REA (Rural Electrification) where I grew up, showing the windmills that were installed to pump water from a well. Water is the life blood of a farm, and if the farm is not near a natural lake or river – you had to put in storage – wells and dams. The water storage was designed to last days, not hours like solar. Even if each solar array was required to be installed with storage, the storage wouldn’t be enough and back up energy is needed. And, I don’t think storage technology improvements will solve solar’s problem.

Jean Parisot
Reply to  John Larson
January 14, 2020 5:23 am

Didn’t those windmills also have a small Dynamo to run an AM radio?

TG McCoy
Reply to  Jean Parisot
January 14, 2020 9:42 am

Some did also drycell battery back up..My Grandma had an old wind dynamo in her shed roof .
However, she didn turn down the REA when it came in…
to bad Jimmah didn’t back Fourth Gen Nuclear. That would’ve been far better..

Reply to  TG McCoy
January 14, 2020 1:19 pm

I have a neighbor near my cabin who uses wind and solar (nearly everyone does actually—unless they use a whole house propane generator). People in this area would not turn down being hooked up to the grid if offered a reasonable cost for its installation. They only live off-grid because there is no grid. It’s expensive, a pain and you have no electricity at times, unless you have a diesel or propane generator for backup. Any way you look at it, it’s not romantic or nostalgic, it’s a pain. TRUE use of renewables ALONE, without grid backup, is miserable.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  John Larson
January 14, 2020 8:17 am

“The water storage was designed to last days, not hours like solar.”

Solar isn’t storage.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2020 10:05 am

He didn’t say that it was.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  MarkW
January 17, 2020 11:05 am

Sorry, I misread.

January 14, 2020 3:52 am

Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer in the Navy.

Melvyn Dackombe
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 14, 2020 4:27 am

And ?

Andy Krause
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 14, 2020 5:17 am

“It provides documented proof that Jimmy Carter was not a “nuclear engineer” and never served on a nuclear submarine. He left the Navy in October 1953, about 15 months before Jan 17, 1955, the day the world’s first nuclear submarine went to sea.”

Carter was in training to serve aboard the first nuclear submarines. He did not complete the training before he left the Navy. He did complete training for diesel submarines.

Tom Kennedy
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 14, 2020 5:32 am

Jimmy Carter was not a nuclear engineer in the Navy. He did take some engineering courses at the USNA. He also took some non-credit nuclear courses but he graduated with a BS degree.
After graduation, Jimmy Carter served as a surface warfare officer for a two years and then volunteered for the submarine force. He served in a variety of billets, including engineer officer of diesel submarines and qualified to command submarines.
His campaign’s declaration of him being a “Nuclear Engineer” were false.

Reply to  Tom Kennedy
January 14, 2020 2:30 pm

Thank you.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 14, 2020 7:39 am

I stand corrected …

In 1952, Carter began an association with the US Navy’s fledgling nuclear submarine program, then led by Captain Hyman G. Rickover. Rickover’s demands on his men and machines were legendary, and Carter later said that, next to his parents, Rickover was the greatest influence on his life. He was sent to the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C. for three month temporary duty, while Rosalynn moved with their children to Schenectady, New York. On December 12, 1952, an accident with the experimental NRX reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories caused a partial meltdown resulting in millions of liters of radioactive water flooding the reactor building’s basement and leaving the reactor’s core ruined. Carter was ordered to Chalk River to lead a U.S. maintenance crew that joined other American and Canadian service personnel to assist in the shutdown of the reactor. The painstaking process required each team member to don protective gear and be lowered individually into the reactor for a few minutes at a time, limiting their exposure to radioactivity while they disassembled the crippled reactor.

During and after his presidency, Carter said that his experience at Chalk River had shaped his views on atomic energy and led him to cease development of a neutron bomb.

In March 1953 Carter began nuclear power school, a six-month non-credit course covering nuclear power plant operation at Union College in Schenectady, with the intent to eventually work aboard USS Seawolf, which was planned to be one of the first two U.S. nuclear submarines. However, Carter’s father died two months before construction of Seawolf began, and Carter sought and obtained a release from active duty to enable him to take over the family peanut business.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 14, 2020 9:57 am

Don’t think Carter would have passed a Rickover interview .
One of our favorite things to do was to have any new officers tell us about their interview .
( Nuc submariners )
“Uncle ” rode us four times while I was aboard .
Never a dull moment !

old engineer
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
January 14, 2020 12:47 pm

Sweet Old Bob-

I’m not so sure that Carter wouldn’t have passed. Maybe back in 1953 it was harder, but when I interviewed with Adm. Rickover in 1964 (I think), along with over 100 other sea-experienced junior officers, it was not so terrifying: still scary, but not terrifying.

I remember my interview very well even though it was over 45 years ago. After querying me about a couple not-so-stellar grades on my transcript, he glared at me and asked in a stern tone, “Are you married?’ When I answered “Yes Sir”, he slammed my file shut and said “That’s all”

Since Adm. Rickover thought that if the Navy wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued one with your seabag, Carter might have failed the married test. But other than that, he would have probably passed the interview.

January 14, 2020 4:20 am

Just a small FYI, and speaking of North Carolina, Duke Power did just send out (again) millions of LED bulbs in the form of a 12 pack per household I think. I have two accounts and received two boxes of their 2700k A19 800 lumens bulbs. Course for what I pay them every year, I should be getting a new car…

Reply to  Mat
January 14, 2020 1:22 pm

Do they think you’re too stupid to buy lightbulbs????

Reply to  Sheri
January 14, 2020 4:39 pm

Based upon no evidence whatsoever, I’ve been telling people that electricity-utility distribution of free and/or subsidized LED bulbs to consumers is taking place because it ticks a box for the “energy efficiency resource standard” for one or more states that the utility operates in.

Melvyn Dackombe
January 14, 2020 4:26 am

And ?

Melvyn Dackombe
Reply to  Melvyn Dackombe
January 14, 2020 11:05 am

Oops, posted in error.

January 14, 2020 4:33 am

Only one problem: Carbon is GOOD for the environment, folks! People that sound so sanctimonious by touting our “carbon-free” this or “reduced-carbon” are falling into the trap that presupposes that carbon is bad when just the opposite is true! Foodstuff prouction has increased worldwide with increased carbon dioxed in the atmosphre!

Those that push carbon-control malarky desperately want to control your personal “carbon footprint” because that is the key to controlling your life: how much you travel, the housing you are allowed to have, the food you consume or produce–EVERYTHING! It is ridiculous to believe that carbon dioxide controls the climate in any significant way. But carbon control will control YOU and everything you do!

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 5:31 am

January 27, 2017 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy (“SolAmerica”), a leading solar development and construction firm, will be having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its latest solar project, on February 8, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. to Noon (Eastern) in Plains, Georgia.

I don’t recall this being reported at the time. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is generally held when a new facility opens or begins operation. In that case it should be operational today. Perhaps they meant a “ground-braking ceremony”?

Nope. Other accounts clearly say the site is finished. This article from the New York Times shows the panels and provides more detail. This article says the facility is on land owned by Carter, but other accounts say he leased the property.

I should be able to find a 10-acre site with 3,852 mounted solar panels in or near Plains GA on Google Maps, but I haven’t succeeded. You’d think there would be data on the first two (almost three) years of operation somewhere.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 8:19 am

“ground-braking ceremony”

I hate when the ground brakes and I don’t.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2020 10:38 am

I hate it when auto-correct corrects stuff incorrectly and leaves incorrect stuff un-corrected!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 17, 2020 11:08 am


Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 8:22 am

“I should be able to find a 10-acre site with 3,852 mounted solar panels in or near Plains GA on Google Maps, but I haven’t succeeded. ”

Depends on when the site was last imaged. Often times I’ll be looking up an address, even in an urban area, and from the satellite view, there’s an empty lot. But at street view there’s an apartment building. So for a backwater like plains, I wouldn’t expect very recent imaging, except by chance.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 8:24 am

Could be the google map images of the area aren’t recent enough.

Bob Rogers
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 10:54 am

Google Earth reports the imagery for Plains is 2/6/2016

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 16, 2020 8:03 am

Not even close with google maps. I used to live in a rural area, sold the house and moved away due to my job. Seven years later I pulled the place up on google maps and I see my pickup, car, trailer, fencing I installed (and removed before moving), the two horses and my neighbors places all looking exactly the same as when we left. Matter of fact it was the exact same image of the place I saw on google maps before putting it on the market.

Peter Morris
January 14, 2020 5:39 am

With Iran back in the news, I’m surprised Carter poked his head above the parapets. You’d think he wouldn’t want people making the connection. Again.

Reply to  Peter Morris
January 14, 2020 6:24 am


January 14, 2020 5:41 am

Clean Tecnica’s Steve Hanley missed one tiny fact. \

He said “Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains”.

However, David’s friend and the SolAmerica website both say “Over the next 25 years, the system is projected to generate over 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy in Plains.”

Big difference between each year and 25 years.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Roger Caiazza
January 14, 2020 8:34 am

“Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains”

Hanley’s claim is even more of a lie when he says “will supply”. It MIGHT supply SOME of that.

Carl Friis-Hansen
January 14, 2020 5:45 am

Just for the fun of it.

Initial cost inclusive installation: USD1,000,000/MW ref:

Carter’s installation: 1,000,000*1.3=1,300,000
Price per effective MWh: 1,300,000/0.19=about 7,000,000 per MWh
Electricity price over 25 years: 7,000,000/24/365.25/25=about 32 dollar per MWh or 0.032 dollar per kWh

This sounds cheap and it is probably much more expensive in real terms.
Inverter and other electronic components not included.
Degradation of panels not included.
Maintenance not included.
Capital interest not included.
Disposal expense not included.
Line lease fees not included.
Insurance not included.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 14, 2020 7:31 am

Batteries not included.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  H.R.
January 14, 2020 8:35 am

Some assembly required.

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
January 14, 2020 9:20 am

If you look at the reference page I got the 1millon/MWh from, you will see Harry Kier states “Material cost + Installation Cost”.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
January 14, 2020 9:27 am

How about degradation and replacement of inverters that comes before the panel end life?

January 14, 2020 6:06 am

My electricity is 100% energy. I don’t know what color it is, as if that applies.

Reply to  Scissor
January 14, 2020 8:49 am

Short across black & white wires, and it’s briefly a bright blue-white.

Reply to  beng135
January 14, 2020 3:22 pm

Yes, it shows it’s colors then disappears.

January 14, 2020 6:28 am

10 acres equals about 40500 square meters.
PV panels generate electricity at about 100 watts per square meter.
So, the maximum electrical power possible on 10 acres is 4050000 watts.
That’s 4 megawatts. So, it’s plausible for the plant capacity to be 1.3 megawatts.
I guess you could fit 13000 panels on 10 acres.

Available solar energy averages maybe 4 kilowatthours per square meter per day over the year.
The panels convert solar to electrical at about 10 percent, so the electrical energy can be 0.4 kWh/m2/day.
Or, 365 times 0.4 equals 146 kWh per square meter per year.
13000 panels then generate about 190000 kWh per year. 1.9 million kWh per year.
25 years times 1.9 is about 47.5 million kWh. That means the planners estimated more than 4 kWh/m2/day for that location. 4.6 kilowatthours per square meter per day would provide the 55 million kWh for the lifespan of the solar plant.
The retail value of 55 million kWh of electric power is about 5.5 million dollars at 10 cents/kWh.
The cost of 13000 panels at 100 dollars per panel is then 1.3 million dollars.
Total plant cost must be at least double that. Add interest lost, maintenance, etc.
So, the town is breaking even over 25 years. It’s just paying for 25 years worth of power up front.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  bwegher
January 14, 2020 7:55 am

It all depends on the details in the power purchase agreement.

John VC
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 14, 2020 9:14 am

Power Purchase Agreement—ask the citizens of Georgetown Texas how that’s working out for them

Jeremiah Puckett
January 14, 2020 6:46 am

So, Jimmy Carter used TEN acres to produce about 20% of electric needs of a town of less than 800 people. How much did this cost, including the price of land and the infrastructure to get the power to the town? More inefficient than I thought, for power that’s only available when the weather is perfect.

Curious George
January 14, 2020 7:16 am

Another solar power plant as seen

1. By the Department of Energy: (website as of Jan 14,2020)
In September 2011, the Department of Energy issued a $737 million loan guarantee to finance Crescent Dunes, a 110-MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant near Tonopah, Nevada. It uses power tower technology that concentrates solar energy to heat molten salt, converting that heat into electricity. Upon completion, Crescent Dunes became the largest molten salt power tower in the world.

2. By the Popular Mechanics:
The $1 Billion Solar Plant Is an Obsolete, Expensive Flop … The Crescent Dunes plant opened outside of Las Vegas in 2015, when its technology was already behind, and the solar boom since then has completely eclipsed it. Now, the closed and abandoned plant is the subject of huge ongoing lawsuits.

January 14, 2020 7:24 am
Green Bananas
January 14, 2020 7:51 am

“Today, the 94-year-old’s solar has a solar farm that is supplying 50% of all the energy used in his home town of Plains, Georgia. He signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power…”

Now that is some long-term thinking! A little income to tide him over until he is 119.

January 14, 2020 8:47 am

Here is a look back at one of the other Jimmy Carter failures that taxpayers paid for….

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 15, 2020 5:36 am

I sure like the memories of the visitors here. I was not much interested in ENERGY in the early 80’s so don’t remember the shale oil plants in Colorado. Thanks, ResourceGuy, for living upto your moniker.

John F. Hultquist
January 14, 2020 9:56 am

You mention “batteries” 2 or so times in this post.
Because of comments on Jo Nova’s site, I tried to find some info on Tesla’s Power Wall – –
– – namely have they been useful, and (more or less) trouble free?

Background: My auto batteries usually last 5 or 6 years (as their warranty states) without any thought to them. If I note one of them seems a little slow, I do a 2 amp charge for several hours and, if over the next week I note the same decline – I replace it.

Original Tesla Power Walls should be at about this stage in their life.

With ½ hour of searching, I found very little information on this subject, but did not persist.

Just floating this issue in case you or other WUWT folks have some knowledge or experience.

Maybe ‘ctm’ or Anthony can find a willing poster.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Washington State has cold, snow, downed trees, power lines down, and folks stranded. [Highway 2, Stevens Pass road.] That last will likely be fixed today.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 15, 2020 5:51 pm

John: You state your experiences with a car battery. That’s a lead-acid battery and very different from the Lithium batteries in Tesla Powerwalls. The manufacturers of Lithium batteries claim much longer life than lead-acid. It will certainly be interesting to watch the performance of Tesla’s batteries in this type of application. Similarly, I wonder about the experience with the batteries installed in Puerto Rico. Lots of hoopla during installation and not much since.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 16, 2020 7:18 pm

” and not much since ”

Lead-acid battery works as intended — that is fit for purpose.
Tesla Powerwalls? Who knows? Near silence.

Great Greyhounds
January 14, 2020 10:05 am

I live fairly close to Plains, GA, and the Solar Facilities in the State.

One thing to note in driving past, is that all of the panels only have a Southern facing tilt. the panels don’t track to follow the sun as it progresses across the sky. So, take an inefficient panel, and make it more so by having most of the sunlight striking at large incidence angles to the panel.

January 14, 2020 10:15 am

I don’t see anyone commenting on the fact that according to the article, these panels are on single axis tracking mounts.
Tracking is one of those ideas that sounds like a good idea, until you stop to think about it. (Which greens never do.)
While keeping the panel facing the sun, you do increase the efficiency of the panel. However once you start installing multiple rows of panels you run into the problem of the sunward (east in the morning, west in the evening) panels shading the rest of the panels.
The only way to solve this is to start spreading the rows out. This means fewer panels per acre.

The plus is that for part of the day, you get more power.
The minus is you need more land (sometimes a lot more land).
The added installation cost of the tracking gear.
The added maintenance cost of the tracking gear.
The energy needed to run the tracking gear.
What’s the average energy lost when a the tracking gear for a panel breaks and the panel spends most of the day pointed away from the sun?

Steve Z
January 14, 2020 1:13 pm

Fifty-five million kWh might sound like a lot, but over 25 years it comes out to an average power output of

55(10^6) / (25 * 365 * 24) = 251 kW.

Plains, GA had a population of 776 people in 2010, so each person in Plains would get 251 / 776 = 0.324 kW = 324 Watts of power from former President Carter’s solar panels. Maybe enough to turn on a few of those super-efficient LED bulbs, but not nearly enough to run an air conditioner on a hot, muggy Georgia afternoon.

But if President Carter had an agreement to sell power to Georgia Power at 10 cents per kWh (about what natural-gas-generated power sells for), he could make a cool $5.5 million over 25 years, or $220K per year.
Not a bad business, if you own enough land for solar panels.

But how much land would be required? If we estimate the incident solar radiation (averaged over the course of a year) at 300 W per square meter, and assume solar panels are 20% efficient, about 1.25 MW of solar radiation are needed to generate 250 kW of power. Dividing by 300 W/m^2 requires 4,200 square meters, or about 45,000 square feet (slightly over an acre) of solar panels.

This might work for a peanut farmer living in the middle of nowhere, but most suburban lots are less than a quarter acre, and suburbanites might want some of their land occupied by grass, shrubs, or trees to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, not taken up totally by solar panels. For city-dwellers living in high-rise apartment buildings, covering the roof with solar panels would not provide nearly enough electric power for all the tenants, let alone the entire city.

If the 251 kW of power supplied by President Carter’s solar panels were supplied instead by a simple-cycle natural-gas turbine at 35% efficiency, the heating value of the natural gas would be 251 / 0.35 = 717 kW. Since methane has a heating value of 8,263 kJ/kg, the power could be supplied by burning 717/8,263 = 0.087 kg/s (about 3 ounces per second) of natural gas, which would emit 0.087 * 44/16 = 0.239 kg/s, or 859 kg/hr of CO2. This comes out to about 1.1 kg/hr of CO2 per resident of Plains, which is about 12 times the amount of CO2 they would exhale.

January 14, 2020 1:14 pm

The truth about solar and wind cannot be told. The speakers burn up like vampires in the daylight.

Gunga Din
January 14, 2020 2:34 pm

Back when he was in office the joke was:
The people of Plains Georgia will be eating peanuts for their Thanksgiving dinner this year.
They sent their turkey to Washington.

michael hart
January 14, 2020 5:41 pm

As a child, I always loved to own the Carolina’s on the Monopoly board. They were so green.

Dennis G. Sandberg
January 14, 2020 8:50 pm

Here’s the extent of Carter’s Nuclear experience: He enrolled in a six month program, to qualify to be a school teacher for nuclear plant operators, but left the navy after only three months into the program.
In November 1952, he began a three month temporary duty assignment at the Naval Reactor branch. He started nuclear power school (a six month course of study that leads to operator training) in March, 1953. In July 1953, his father passed away and he resigned his commission to run the family peanut farm.

January 14, 2020 8:56 pm

It doesn’t take much of a cyclone to rip up solar panels.
One tornado or supercell T storm could have shut the facility down.

Or the peanut harvester could have, accidently, driven across the paneled field.

Or, all of those peanut filled gulls might have blotted out the solar cells.

etc. etc.
I am curious where they’ll fit in the solar farm into ‘Old McDonald had a farm’…

January 14, 2020 10:13 pm

Some of us haven’t forgotten Carter’s rise from a humble peanut farmer all the way to the Georgia goober-natorial mansion and beyond.

January 17, 2020 8:47 am

What a shame see a life time of effort go down the drain with Prez Trump’s deal with Guatemala to hold refugees (from river blindness infested areas) which would then force the upland to be reinhabited and the farmers to be exposed to the worm endemic in the upland waters. The cure, there is no CURE, is to take IVERMECTIN, a horse wormer, for the duration of the life span of the worm inhabiting your body, 20 YEARS.

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