On The New Gemini Solar Power Plant Near Las Vegas

Arvid Pasto, Sparks, NV May 2020

In the May 12th edition of the Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ), there appeared a description of a newly-approved (by the U.S. Government) solar power facility, near Las Vegas, called Gemini. This would place it not very far from the recently-defunct solar power facility known as Crescent Dunes. The new facility is quite different in operation from Crescent Dunes, relying on huge photovoltaic cells to capture sunlight and turn it into electricity, with backup power batteries to store the electricity for use when the sun isn’t shining. In Crescent Dunes, huge mirrors were focused into a tank of molten salt atop a high tower. The heated salt was pumped down and through a turbine to extract electric power.

The RGJ article (https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/05/12/biggest-us-solar-project-approved-nevada-despite-critics/3120319001/ ) describes the proposed and newly-approved facility: “The $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas is expected to produce 690 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 260,000 households — and annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars.

It will create about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and inject an estimated $712.5 million in the economy as the nation tries to recover from the downturn brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said.”

“The joint venture by Australia’s Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners and California-based Arevia Power is part of an integrated resource plan Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission approved last year for NV Energy, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffet and is Nevada’s largest utility.

Coupled with a 380 megawatt AC battery storage system, it will be one of the first in Nevada to include batteries to enable power delivery after the sun goes down.”

However, with the failure of the nearby Crescent Dunes solar plant, some are not convinced that the promises can or will be kept. In a recent article ( https://climatechangedispatch.com/more-on-billion-dollar-solar-boondoggle-in-vegas/ )

Dr. Jay Lehr says “This is a fairy tale of absurdity being sold to Las Vegas just as the snake oil salesmen of the old west plied their trade.” “It must have 100% backed up with fossil fuel or nuclear power to ensure that the communities’ electric grid can not let them down. Las Vegas of all places can not afford a blackout.

Thinking that some special new battery is going to maintain as much power as the absent sun, has been and will be an impossibility for the foreseeable future.

The mandatory back up fossil fuel must stand by running near full out and emitting carbon dioxide and producing no electricity until the sun can not fill the bill and it must step in.”

He ends with “The excess cost for the excess backup power will show up in the electric bills of the residents of Las Vegas as sure as night shall follow day.”

Probably the most unsettling proposal for the new solar plant is described in the RGJ article:

“The first phase of the project covering about 11 square miles (28 sq. km) of federal land is expected to be completed next year with 440 MW of solar capacity for use in Nevada. Another 250 MW of generating capacity would be added in the second phase with the power sold in Nevada or exported to Arizona and California in 2022.”

That is, they expect to sell solar electric power to California and Arizona. Yet California already often produces more solar power than they can use, so they either have to curtail power generation, or actually PAY Arizona to take their excess power. See for instance http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-electricity-solar/ .

In this article, the authors show that California is on a solar production upswing that shows no end. Certainly, they will not need to buy any from NV.

When excess electric power is produced, California energy regulators or grids order the power to be shut off (known as curtailment), or they pay someone else to take it (AZ).

Thus, I wonder how well thought out the Gemini solar power plan actually is, and whether this plant will be just another Nevada solar boondoggle.

144 thoughts on “On The New Gemini Solar Power Plant Near Las Vegas

  1. None of the solar or wind farms are “well thought out” except in the sense of examining how to make a quick buck off the taxpayers.

    • More like designed to fail more like ( while extracting the maximum from taxpayer subs ).

      Ivan Pah had no storage. Duh. Crescent Dunes produced only 40% of what was expected. We have stats abotu sunshine, right?

      Now, we could get three men, flying in a giant Pepsi can, to the moon and back in1969 using less computing power than an iPhone.

      Why the hell can’t we work out how to capture solar power?

      • “Why the **** can’t we work out how to capture solar power?”

        We have. It is very simple. The problem is that the sun only shines for an average of 12 hours per 24 hour day. That fact is not changeable.

        • Odd, I always thought we called the solar storage medium “trees”. Every 20 years or so you can chop one down and have a small continuous fire for several days.

        • Doesn’t explain inefficient solar cells (solar cell inefficiency), a ‘problem’ physics has not worked out yet.

          • Well _Jim, the best theoretical efficiency for solar cells is set by physics at about 68%. Current cells can do about 44%. So I wouldn’t say physics hasn’t really worked out the issue. The remaining 24%, which is firmly in the realm of diminishing returns, isn’t going to affect anyone’s economic calculations significantly… the amount of power produced is still minuscule compared to all the other ways we can generate power.

          • re: “Well _Jim, the best theoretical efficiency for solar cells is …”

            I don’t need this info; please address it to the individual who stated: “ “Why the **** can’t we work out how to capture solar power?”

          • @ Steve Keppel-Jones

            If you ask me (and you didn’t) I would point out that harnessing solar energy terrestrially is, for the most part, an exercise in futility and further ‘pissing in the wind’; I would refer you instead to this: https://brilliantlightpower.com/presentations/Short_Business_Presentation.pptx (power point presentation) See slide 19 for a better use CPV (Concentrator Photo Voltaic) devices.

            And another recent validation report of the energy output from this tech: https://brilliantlightpower.com/validation-report-of-275-kw-of-power-at-5-mw-liter-power-density-produced-by-the-suncell/

          • Right _Jim, sorry, I missed that you were being sarcastic. Definitely the whole thing is an exercise in futility. I am not sure if Greg was being sarcastic or not, also… but if not, indeed, we *have* worked out how to capture it, as Walter says. It’s about as good as it’s going to get, and it’s not very good.

        • Even when shining, the sun shines at less than 1.362 kW/m^2 at 100% conversion efficiency.

      • Ivanpah ???

        I have texted on two or three WUWT threads asking whether Ivanpah is producing any electricity now. “Planet of the Humans”, the film, states that it is a solar dead zone.

        It’s a $2.2 billion, 3 molten salt tower facility, and I have received no answers about whether it is being dismantled.

        The 350,000 garage door sized mirrors are scattered about and missing from a view of it on Google earth (over half of the mirrors are either broken or are missing).

        In Michael Moor’s movie “Planet of the Humans” it states that it is a solar dead zone.
        Some posters on one of the other threads say that it is still operating !!!?

        Does anyone know the truth about Ivanpah and it’s current situation???

        – JPP

          • Is a ‘Solar Dead Zone’ the same as that place ‘Where the sun don’t shine’?

        • “The 350,000 garage door sized mirrors are scattered about and missing from a view of it on Google earth (over half of the mirrors are either broken or are missing).”

          We went through this on an other thread. Your claim is false.

          • I didn’t say it was still operating, I was responding to the portion I quoted. There is no evidence in Google Earth that “The 350,000 garage door sized mirrors are scattered about and missing from a view of it on Google earth (over half of the mirrors are either broken or are missing).”

            The towers in GE are lit up. They wouldn’t be if the mirrors were in the state you describe. I’m not going through all that again. People can look in Google Earth and decide for themselves.

      • So this thing provides less than 50% usable power during the day.
        What a waste.

        Like Ivanpah, it’s debt is probably backed by gov’t guarantees.

      • Most people make the assumption, solar energy is like a down pouring of heavy rain, and are shocked to learn it’s much more like a fine mist.

      • and annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars…..

        we have close to 300 million cars

  2. From the above article: “Coupled with a 380 megawatt AC battery storage system . . .”

    That’s a long-awaited breakthrough! Up till now, I thought that chemical batteries could only store DC electricity . . . who knew?

      • In another article, I read the capacity of the battery is 1400MWh. This means that the battery can sustain 380MW for roughly 3hrs 40min.

      • This article seems to indicate 4 hours.

        https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/71714.pdf

        Isn’t that wonderful. Before and after the Sun is higher than ~60 deg. in the sky, the batteries will need to supply part or all of the power. In the summer (when Nevada needs a lot of air conditioning in the late afternoon –> night), that means (assuming they can tip their solar panels’ angle to maintain some efficiency) that:

        from around 4PM (to be generous) to around 7AM (again, to be generous), the batteries will need supply some or all of the power.

        If (being generous) the batteries supply about 50% of the power from 4PM until 5PM (that is, battery used up by .5 hour) and 100% from 5PM until 7AM….

        the lights are going to go out at …. 3, 2, 1 — about 8:30PM.

        I wonder how an 8:30PM

        “Show’s over, folks!
        Thanks for coming.
        We’d love to keep the place open longer, but (hyuk, hyuk) our batteries are out of juice.

        We look forward to serving you tomorrow, starting at 7AM”

        would go over in Las Vegas.

        SOLAR IS NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME.

        But! Stay tuned! Maybeeeee there will be a technological break-through making it no longer NET NEGATIVE ROI. Maybe that will happen next year.

        “And maybe,” says Bill Gates [I am putting these words in his mouth based on his saying last year that it’s time for solar subsidies to end] “it’s time for solar to cover its own cost of production.”

        • And if all the battery power is discharged overnight, how much of the next day’s solar power goes to the recharge?

          If it takes say, 40% of the next day’s solar power to recharge, how do the Las Vegans fry their breakfast eggs and bacon?

          Some of the wonderful new jobs, by the way, will go to the multiple crews on constant move washing the dust off the solar panels.

          • Green jobs 😉

            At least they wouldn’t freeze to death like the workers who have to remove snow off the panels in MN….seriously who thinks MN needs solar ?

          • Pat,
            This is the part that everybody pushing battery backup solutions seem to neglect: you have to recharge them. Which means you have to budget for that in your power planning. So, do you need 2x, 3x … 10x nameplate capacity? Who knows.

      • This is one of my pet peeves. All of the stories about storage mention the power in MW, not the energy in MW Hrs.

    • Here is the description of the battery system:
      Gemini solar and battery storage facility make-up
      The Gemini solar project comprises 690MW of solar PV installations as well as a 380MW battery energy storage facility.

      The solar facility will comprise multiple solar array blocks comprising either traditional or bifacial PV modules mounted on horizontal, single-axis trackers.

      Each array block will comprise 32 solar panel rows spaced 6m from each other. The space between the bottom of each panel and the ground will vary between 1ft and 8ft.

      The integrated battery energy storage system (BESS) will consist of approximately 425 units of 5MWh, four-hour battery storage systems to store excess electricity generation from the PV panels.

      Each battery system will comprise approximately 126 individual batteries enclosed within a 12.2m-long, 2.9m-wide and 2.4m-tall container, which will be installed at each power conversion station (PCS) of the solar facility.

      One PCS is proposed for every four solar array blocks of the PV solar park.

      Electricity from each PCS is proposed to be conveyed to one of the three substations (two 230kV and one 500kV) of the solar facility through 34.5kV collector cables.

      Other facilities proposed for the project include a 9.1m-tall meteorological tower, an operation and maintenance (O&M) building, four temporary water ponds, apart from a 20ft-wide perimeter road as well as internal access roads.
      https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/projects/gemini-solar-project/
      No mention of “New” AC Battery Storage. A Battery is a Chemical device and cannot store AC power directly. So Inverters are required with all the efficiency losses associated with battery charge/discharge cycling and conversion of DC to AC power.

      • Dr. Bob refers to this description: “The integrated battery energy storage system (BESS) will consist of approximately 425 units of 5MWh, four-hour battery storage systems to store excess electricity generation from the PV panels.”

        That directly translates to storage of 2,125 MWh of electrical energy, with a portion of that to be available via discharge over four hours.

        As others have commented elsewhere, there appears separately to be wording that indicates the output capability of the system is rated to be 1,400 MWh. The only way that I can see to reconcile these numbers is that the depth-of-discharge of the total battery system will be limited to 1,400/2,125 = 66%. That may extend battery life, by it significantly reduces the annual economic ROAE, return on assets employed.

      • Something just doesn’t sound quite right here. 425 battery units of 126 batteries each? That’s 53,000 batteries that will require routine maintenance. If it takes ten minutes to isolate a battery and load test it you are talking about 530,000 minutes to cover them all. That’s almost 9000 man-hours to get through all of them. If you add in sick time, vacations, etc that’s a crew of about 5 working every day doing nothing but testing batteries. If you add in the time to replace the batteries that are bad you are probably talking about a crew of 7 or 8 testing and replacing batteries if the testing is spread out over a whole year. If you want all batteries tested once a month then you would need a crew ten times as large or about 70 or 80 people just to test and replace batteries.

        Is this what they talk about when they talk about “new green jobs?

        Did I miscount batteries somehow?

        • Tim, well you may have overlooked the ability to use modern electronic circuit design and components to automatically and periodically test and isolate dead batteries (‘”cells”) in any given size battery “pack”. This technology is employed, for instances, on the Tesla EV 100 kWh battery packs so that one dead battery cell in their series-parallel battery wiring doesn’t disable the whole pack or even a large segment thereof.

          And no, dead cells are not field-replaceable on the Tesla battery packs.

          • I’m not sure that auto testing will lessen the manpower requirements significantly. You are adding significant complexity in the form of switching units capable of isolating the battery, connecting it to a test load, and reading the result. You will have to pull routine maintenance on that equipment to make sure each and every test unit is working correctly as well as pull routine maintenance of the test load, e.g. using a dust swab and a vacuum to clean out spider webs, dust, and insect detritus. Not doing so represents a potential fire hazard. And you will still have to spend the time to repair bad batteries plus the time to repair or replace remote test units.

            You will quite likely spend as much time on routine maintenance even with remote testing capability.

            Has anyone ever added in the capital cost for maintaining a pool of replacement units, e.g. batteries, remote test units, etc)? Or the logistical cost in maintaining the pool of replacements? Someone is going to have to track the serial number of each unit in the installation as well as its status (standby, in-use, or salvaged). More manpower!

          • Tim, I hear your arguments, but the fact is that Tesla pulls it off with every single 100 kWh battery pack EV that they sell . . . successfully and apparently without huge cost or complexity hits.

            The Tesla 100 kWh battery pack has a total of 8,256 battery cells in 16 individual modules. The diagnostic testing is likely done when the battery is under normal load (use), and almost certainly does not require in-out switching of individual cells and putting each one individually under load. Likely done with sophisticated ASIC and micro-cabling. The Tesla battery packs are well-sealed against external contamination.

            And as I mentioned, the individual cells are automatically isolated when diagnosed to be defective (most critical defect is a short circuit, not an open circuit), and are not replaceable in-the-field.

            I have no idea what the failure rate of the individual #18650 Li-ion battery cells is over the 8-year warranty period of the battery, but it is apparently so low that there are not many reported warranty repairs for too many individual cells going bad so as to make replacement of the sealed 100 kWh pack necessary.

            I see no reason that this technology cannot be extended to the planned battery system for the New Gemini Solar Power Plant.

          • Gordon,

            The lifetime of Tesla’s batteries depend on using a 20% to 70% charging cycle. That’s a *huge* impact on the capacity of a solar plant backed up by batteries. If you have to oversize your battery system by 30% in order to maintain peak capacity that is even more capital investment required for the system plus that many more units to maintain.

            If you only test the output capacity of the whole battery plant instead of testing individual batteries then you are risking catastrophic failure at some point. Dead cells in series strings just craps out the whole string. Yes, you can over-design the battery plant so that a specific number of series strings can be dead while still putting out rated capacity but, again, you are risking not have the maximum output capacity you need under full load.

            If you don’t maintain things as they go bad then it costs you capital and eventually expense. It’s far more costly to do a rush maintenance job than to do routing maintenance.

            ASICs and micro-cabling aren’t sufficient for load testing under high current conditions. And it is the current capacity that is of most concern.

            It doesn’t matter how well sealed the individual batteries are, the connections to the real world will still be under environmental stress, including the thermal stress from high current through mechanical connections.

            Here’s a document on testing of UPS units: https://www.ecmweb.com/content/article/20888675/how-to-maintain-and-test-ups-systems

            Some of the discussion is about the AC output of the unit but even the AC output capacity is directly affected by the conditions of the batteries in the unit.

            Remember, this will be a commercial system with certain expectations for load capacity over time. An electric vehicle is not in the same class. If the battery fails in a Tesla you get the car towed somewhere and the battery replaced. It may be inconvenient but only inconveniences you. You can always rent a car while it takes a week or two to get a new battery installed. You can’t go out and rent a new megawatt capacity power plant while yours is down for maintenance that was never done.

        • This “thing” will cover 11 square miles, think about that for a second. Now think about the thousands of miles of wire, the hundreds of thousands if not millions of electrical connections it will take. Now tell me how this is a good idea.

          A combined cycle gas turbine with the same output will not only cover a faction of the area but also a faction of the complexly.

          • Each and every connection subjected to significant thermal stress every day plus the abrasion impacts from blowing dust and sand in the desert. More manpower costs to maintain the equipment.

            The gas turbine routine maintenance would be significantly less costly.

            Again, is this where the the new “green jobs” are going to come from?

    • Here is a DOE Article on Coupled Solar-Battery power:
      https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-plus-storage-101
      No discussion about efficiency, but costs are very high. What they don’t say is that the daytime solar output has to be split between battery recharge and supply to the grid. Nothing is free, so if you want 240 MW-h Storage you have to take it from the supply during daylight hours so the overall output is reduced.

  3. The mandatory back up fossil fuel must stand by running near full out and emitting carbon dioxide and producing no electricity until the sun can not fill the bill

    I’m not trying to support this renewable madness but can’t they find someone does say what is wrong with it without talking shyte ?

    What is he suggesting that they have a coal plant bumping power into a restive load until it has the chance to inject it into the grid?

      • restive: stubbornly resisting control

        Pure definition of ‘renewable’ energy. What’s your point ?

    • I’m pretty sure that means the power source (coal, gas, whatever, has to hot and ready to go almost instantly, and the mechanical parts spinning so as not to have to undergo a long delay over inertia. However, without the coll windings being fed, electricity is not being produced. Thus the coal, oil, gas, whatever doesn’t have to supply full operating power but is all primed and ready to go. This is still considerable waste just so the subsidies can be “earned”.

    • The plant will vent excess steam into the cooling towers so that the boiler can be kept hot enough to pick up load when required.

      • Some fossil-fueled power plants can be readily “turned up” and “turned down” to accommodate peaking loads. However, these are normally gas turbines (like jet engines), but coal-fired plants are not so accommodating, and it hurts the machinery to be turned up and down…they work best at constant load. So, the commenters, and the quoted author, who described the need for a constantly-running base load power plant are missing a part of the story. There are very few gas turbine power plants ni NV, near Las Vegas.

    • Yep, them thar AC storage batteries are a sight to behold ! Just wish I could afford some.

    • A 380 MW L-C oscillator is a great idea, if you can keep resistive losses to a minimum 😉

      • If they intend to use battery storage, why do they buy panels with an inverter in the panel. That’s insane. Two EXTRA levels of conversion, each with incumbent losses.

        Ah, reading the doc on that product they say DC is “unsafe” and AC is “safe”. DC can “jump the wires” and cause fires. They don’t explain why AC cannot jump damaged wire and cause fires. I guess they never heard of fuses.

        • With AC any fire is extinguished every 1/120th second, so ionization is much reduced.

  4. The new facility is quite different in operation from Crescent Dunes, relying on huge photovoltaic cells to capture sunlight and turn it into electricity, with backup power batteries to store the electricity for use when the sun isn’t shining.

    Crescent Dunes used concentrated solar ( more efficient than PV ) and thermal storage of molten salt more efficient than conversion – charge -discharge – reconversion to grid.

    “Quite different” to be sure. In what way is that better?

    What is wrong with the people putting this stuff together? Why did Crescent Dunes only produce 20% boilerplate instead of 50% as billed? You cannot be that far off by accident.

    • Oh, it was just a molten salt mishap. They wanted to reuse experiences gathered from molten salt nuclear reactors, but it turned out that these reactors – more precisely, that reactor – never produced power. It was a brave attempt to save the planet (but not the taxpayers).

    • Wasn’t Crescent Dunes the project Harry “The Horse” Reid made a $billion in a brown envelope from? I’d sure like to find out who put out his eye for him.

  5. Why don’t they reclaim the Crescent Dunes property and use it for this Gemini site?

    Is it because land reclamation isn’t part of the overall permitting process so a failure will leave a big blight on the land and consume an inordinat amount of time and money in legal battles with little hope of resolving the issue?

    It sure looks like it!

    • Follow the money . . . why incur the expense of having to remove and dispose of all those tracking mirrors and their structural supports and their electrical cabling, as well as the central tower and its steam-plant for generating electricity, when the desert land for your PV farm is given to you for free (or at insignificant cost)?

    • No! It took them 10y to relocate all those poor desert tortoises 100m. We could not possibly inflict that treatment on them again.

      Just imagine if Gemini is not the same shape as Crescent Doones, they will have a whole population of desert tortoises with PTSD.

      Besides, Crescent Doones has been re-purposed to flash Pepsi-Cola adds at passing aircraft and is providing far more revenue than it did as as a carbon credit slot machine.

      • “It took them 10y to relocate all those poor desert tortoises 100m.”

        And don’t forget the destruction of more of those 500-year-old yucca trees. Maybe we can get Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore to do “Planet of Humans, Part Deux” to cover the construction of the Gemini solar plant.

    • RockyRoad, every project that I permitted in Nevada had a reclamation requirement, to include posting a bond, because, you know, sometimes msicreants disappear in the middle of the night. Why wouldn’t a large, invasive project such as Gemini (or Crescent Dunes for that matter) not have a reclamation bond requirement? If it/they don’t there’s some politics involved (in Nevada? Yikes!).

      • Is that the same Nevada which forbid the use of hydrocholoroquine to treat COVID-19, on the advice of a psychologist and an african witch doctor ??

        Not suggesting that that implies some childish political involvement like “orange man bad”. I mean, that would be criminally irresponsible, right?

      • 11 sq. mi is about how much land would be disturbed to build 200 mi. interstate highway. The environmental impact statement for a 10 mi. project ran about 1000 pages. I have forgotten the cost of a normal EIS but it was a bid item on the design contracts. I wonder what the EIS for this solar project looks like.

        • The EIS is probably a picture of Harry Reid with a thumbs up gesture. The closer to Lost Wages you get the more power he has.

  6. Owners of such systems should be required to deliver a steady MW of power, 24/7/365, which they can accomplish with batteries and/or standby gas turbines or diesel generators.

    A 20-y performance contract!

    Subsidies will be paid over 20 years as long as performance is met.

    Inadequate performance would lead to a cut in subsidies.

    • Don’t be silly. What is needed is a return to nature. The human body was designed to sleep when it is dark, and go to bed when the sun goes down. All this night time activity isn’t … natural. We need EMERGENCY Executive Orders during this time of insomnia CRISIS to ORDER Americans to go to bed. And shut down all night time businesses! It’s for your own good! It’s for your own HEALTH! Haven’t you heard the expression … “nothing good ever happens after midnight”? Just think of all the crime we will stop … by sleeping all night.

      /sarc.

        • Well, the South African lockdown has an 8 pm curfew (enforced by armed soldiers). So I suppose that the virus just creeps out at night to take advantage of the empty saloons…

  7. So after a decade, all the subsidies, land use, and below anticipated output, plants in CA produce less than 10% and that’s considered a boom? Some of that doesn’t even come from within the state and private (rooftop) contributes under 5%. I wonder how many MWH that “AC” battery provides?

  8. 2016?
    2017?
    Those charts and data look to be a bit out of date.
    Anyone got anything more recent we can look at?

  9. I don’t see where all the funding is coming from. I imagine that it will include massive subsidies which means that all U.S. citizens will be paying for it. Are they going to pay rental fees to the Fed for using the land with agreements to return it to natural conditions if/when the project fails?

    11 square miles is a big footprint to wipe out for just the initial phase. How many phases do they intend on having? What are they going to do about the massive removal of habitat for the native species including the endangered Mohave tortoise?

  10. What happened to the Bunny Ranch after what’s his name died? Are the brothels open? The owner lived in Sparks.

  11. They keep providing power levels, which vary thruout the day, peaking at high noon with no clouds,
    They amount of power is expressed as MW or KW HOURS. Batteries cannot produce power and generally cannot power the grid for more than a matter of minutes using the battery capacitie used elsewhere. Batteries in no way transform primitive, unreliable power generators into reliable generators. Why don’t these morons wait for small modular molten salt reactors and end this complicated, stupid attempt to reduce carbon using technologies that belong in the 16th Century?

    • Batteries help with stability and frequency control and may buy you time to get the peaking plants running. But bulk supply at grid scale? no

    • We are as close to having small modular molten salt reactors as we are to having AC battery storage systems.

  12. I looked but could not find any reference to the 380MW storage capacity. If they are talking about covering night time then you would plan for about 14 hours just to allow for some margin. Thus, that would take 5.32 GWH of storage, or about 53,200 100kWH Tesla batteries at about 1,500 pounds each. Total weight of the batteries would be 39,900 tons. This is just for the batteries. I don’t think they have made that many 100kWH batteries yet.

  13. The activists claim that Planet of the Humans is using old outdated info. No longer this is the new poster child of everything the movie revealed.

  14. Solar photovoltaic almost works in Alice Springs. WUWT

    A desert location is ideal for photovoltaic. One big advantage is that it gets cool/cold at night. Throw the doors and windows wide open in the evening and shut down tight during the day and you almost don’t need air conditioning. As long as the skies are not cloudy all day, you’re good to go.

    • cBob, it was 80.6 deg. F at 12:00AM this morning.🤨

      I would want air conditioning in my hotel. If they said, “Sorry. No AC after 8PM. We are saving the planet,” I would get my money back and go sleep in my running rental car with the AC blasting. And then you know what I would do? I would never go back to Las Vegas. A

      And I hope I never have to go there, actually — why in the world would anyone WANT to go there?? Time is too precious to waste it in Las Vegas.

      ****************

      Hope all is cool and calm in your neck of the woods. 🙂

      • I have been to Las Vegas in the summer. I remember one night when I looked out the window of the hotel at the bank sign across the street which alternated between showing the time and temperature: It was 12:05AM. The temperature was 101F. No AC after 8PM? I don’t think so.

      • I was raised in an arid climate. What I described was standard operating procedure before air conditioning became common. It works, for houses at least.

        The average highs in Reno for July and August are 92 and 91. The average lows for Reno in July and August are 58 and 56.

        When I was a kid on the Great Plains I remember +100° days when the streets were deserted. Everybody was comfortably hunkered down inside, and nobody had an air conditioner.

        • Hi, cBob.

          I think that has much to do with my reaction. I was born and raised in the greater Seattle area. 72 is perfect. 80 is getting a little warm. 85 is TOO HOT (except for swimming — the lakes are not all that warm — need a very hot day to enjoy them! And the salt water? Fugeddaboudit (unless it is a shallow tide flat just after the tide comes in over sand that has been baking in the sun for a few hours)). 🙂

          Take care.

    • As long as the skies are not cloudy all day, you’re good to go.

      But what about roaming buffalo trampling you solar panels?

      • Ah, the “discouraging word.” “Seldom is heard,” but, come it must, here. 🤠 Just have to supply some deer and antelope for the buffalo to play with and put them all in a mighty big pen. 😊 And if they loudly howl, “Don’t fence me in,” just tell them to suck it up and enjoy the free wifi. Sure they use wifi. It is highly classified information. Uh, oh. Hope I don’t get trampled by a buffalo, now…. 😕🙂

  15. “They amount of power is expressed as MW or KW HOURS. ”

    make that kW.hours.

    I would have thought that states like NV where peak demand = peak sun should be were solar can be the most useful in balancing load requirement and minimising the need to dispatchable generation.

    • No, Greg. Peak demand occurs 5-7 hours after peak sun. Why do you think that the Socialists want to rely on demand-side management? Even their propaganda (as regurgitated by the socialist-regulated utilities) state that.

      Why is it that the Socialists want to mange you instead of providing you cheap, reliable power when you want it? Could it be your needs are secondary to the collective dogma?

    • No, Greg. Peak demand occurs 5-7 hours after peak sun. Why do you think that the Socialists want to rely on demand-side management? Even their propaganda (as regurgitated by the socialist-regulated utilities) state that.

      Why is it that the Socialists want to mange you instead of providing you cheap, reliable power when you want it? Could it be your needs are secondary to the collective dogma?

  16. “Coupled with a 380 megawatt AC battery storage system”

    Wow, an AC battery system, now that is a serious technological breakthrough!

    • it’s a DC battery with an inverter built into the housing for charging/discharging. Google it.

  17. “Yet California already often produces more solar power than they can use…”
    And so the smooth switch from saying they don’t produce enough power to saying they produce too much.

    • And that is the fundamental problem with wind and solar. Either they are producing too much where the excess has to be dumped (junk electricity) or too little and backup generation is required.

      Well spotted Nick!

    • Solar can produce a lot of power given enough land, materials, money etc. — that’s not the issue.
      The lifetime usable energy return on energy invested ratio including storage for solar PV is around 2, solar thermal is around 9 compared to around 30 for coal, gas and hydro, 75 for nuclear.
      The problem is solar is very inefficient compared to readily obtained alternatives.

  18. Regarding: “The mandatory back up fossil fuel must stand by running near full out and emitting carbon dioxide and producing no electricity until the sun can not fill the bill and it must step in.”: Generators don’t take much work to keep spinning when there is no electrical load on them, so the plant won’t be burning much fuel. The generators can even work as motors and consume a small amount of electricity instead of locally burned fuel for their spinning being maintained.

    Also, currently existing fossil fuel power plants can be used as the backup against a new solar facility.

    • “Also, currently existing fossil fuel power plants can be used as the backup against a new solar facility”

      Thereby decreasing their efficiency and increasing the cost of power.

      • David A….bingo.

        But it’s supposed to make you FEEL better paying more for electricity.

  19. I can’t wait to watch those batteries overheat and catch fire the first time they try to carry any kind of city-sized load.

    The fire will be visible from the moon. Or at least the nearest operational battlestation.

  20. Re:

    inject an estimated $712.5 million* in the economy

    Given (and this is a very generous given!) this happens by the end of 2022,

    we taxpayers would get a MUCH better “injection” if we just KEPT our $1 billion. If we could only get about 5% interest compounded annually, by 2022 we would have about $1,102,500,000.

    *The 2,000 jobs are almost certainly mostly temporary jobs. We could invest that billion in industries which are much more efficient at creating permanent jobs.

    ***************************
    What I can’t figure out is: why did Trump go along with this sc@m? He must have seen it as a cost worth some gain elsewhere. I would like to know what that gain was. In the meantime, with a slight frown, I am choosing to trust him. America (the world, really) needs Trump to be re-elected for liberty and prosperity. If we have to lose out on close to $400 million to get Trump re-elected, it is …… (thinking about that amount again, for it could be much higher, given the risk involved in this unreliable energy investment —- ouch) ….. yes, it is worth it.

    TRUMP 2020! 😀

    • Actually, at this point in time, Trump is the only person in government that I even halfway trust.

  21. I was watching a CSPAN segment on Hoover Dam this weekend in which the tour guide stated that the hydroelectric installation was being used as a peaker plant. Been scratching my head about that. Could it be that they are conserving water in Lake Mead by relying on Palo Verde, Glen Canyon, and Four Corners coal to provide base power and throttling Hoover Dam as needed? Seems more likely the guide misspoke. Industrial scale solar is not even a consideration.

    • The only way that intermittent renewables make any sense is when used in conjunction with a rainfall limited hydro installation.

      In all other cases by consequence of their intermittency and the carbon cost of arranging other technologies to fill the gap, the net carbon reduction offered is more or less zero and the net cost about tripled, vis a vis say a gas powered power station.

      Governments are perfectly aware of this but do nothing. Governments are not concerned about faux climate change.

      Contrast their genuine concern about COVID 19 and draw your own conclusions

    • Yes, they run Hoover Dam somewhat as a peaker plant (with a smaller base load) since the irrigation and domestic/city water commitments to various states have to met, but the reservoir is still 130 feet below full pool, so the best bang for the buck is to supply peak demand twice a day, which also releases enough water to downstream dams/canals to basically supply a bit more power and all the irrigation/domestic water. Large hydro can respond near instantly to changing loads and demand by throttling flows through the turbines. Especially now that there is so much erratic solar and wind on the grid, which gets priority so river flows can be like a yo-yo while the reservoir doesn’t change a lot on a daily basis.

      Hoover Dam has a capacity of 2,000 MW and the reservoir only half full so if they ran down the reservoir, then the turbines are no longer efficient for that lower head and wouldn’t supply any electricity. Last year was a very good water year and both Lake Powell and Lake Mead are slowly filling again, or at least on an upward trend. This year was an average rain/snowpack water year. Click on the graphs tab to see the different reservoir levels the last 5 years on 5- different dams, or choose the Colorado snowpack graph to show current snow pack/melt over the last 5 years. You would have to dig deeper for the power output of each dam on the Colorado and/or tributaries to get the capacity factor for each dam, but large hydro dams are usually run as both base load and peaking plants unless they are near full supply or are spilling and then they are pedal to the metal.

      http://graphs.water-data.com/lakemead/

    • The guide did not misspeak; only in the Pacific Northwest is hydropower used (somewhat) for base load. With its storage capability, Hoover can provide peak load services cheaply.

      The lesson? Build more large hydro!

  22. The $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project … is expected to … annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars.

    An interesting factoid: one acre of western forest, when catastrophically burned, produces GHG emissions approximately equal to 5 cars driven all year.

    So doing the math, the $1 billion Gemini will offset 16,600 acres of roasted forest.

    Considering that 5 to 10 million acres of forest burn each year in the US, 16,600 acres is a drop in the bucket.

    It is entirely possible via proper stewardship to reduce the annual acreage burned by at least 1.66 million acres, which would “offset” a quantity of GHG’s equal to 100 Gemini’s, and to break even or actually make money doing it.

    That is, if reducing GHG emissions is the purpose of spending $1 billion (a nice round number) in the first place. And if it isn’t the purpose, what is?

    • “annually offset greenhouse emissions of about 83,000 cars.”
      I just go straight to “So what?”
      It’s a completely meaningless metric

  23. Donald:
    Running the current FF energy plants as backup makes partial sense but is not economical: uses fuel, cycling up & down is inefficient and causes more wear & tear thus more maintenance costs. This is why as the % of a States’ renewables (wind & solar) goes up so does the consumers’ costs.
    And a coal or gas plant with routine maintenance can last 40+ years while solar panels start needing to be replaced after 20 while Li batteries after 10 years or so. According to a MIT report in 2019 there is currently no economic way to recycle either a solar panel or a Lithium battery.

  24. All: Sorry about the use of the California curtailment data from 2017. I was simply quoting the LA Times article. I’m pleased that someone pointed out the CASIO site for up-to-date data.

    Arvid

    • Arvid: No need to apologize. Any commenters complaining were likely directing their irritation at the article’s author. And if they were not, they should have been.

      Thank you for posting this eyebrow-raising horror story. As you can see from the energetic response to your choice of reading material, you picked a good subject for a post.

      Janice

  25. “He ends with “The excess cost for the excess backup power will show up in the electric bills of the residents of Las Vegas as sure as night shall follow day.”

    Or it’ll be hidden by billing the state for a subsidy, as I’ve read has been done in Texas.

  26. Wonder if President Trump’s administration will start charging them rent like started happening recently with other solar generating locations. Granted, has to be on federal land but if ranchers, farmers and others are charged some quantity of rent, why not treat land occupants equally’ish.

  27. “Enough to power 260,000 household”? I do wish journalists would stop lazily copying and pasting inane statements such as this. Not only is it meaningless but it is a lie, if you can have that combination. It is also dangerous as it creates the wrong impression and diverts the discussion away from the truth.
    Come on you journalists do your job properly. Ducking behind the fact that it is merely a statement made by others is NOT acceptable; unless you wish to be considered as a parrot.

  28. ‘… inject an estimated 712.5 million dollar into … ‘! Statements like that are always revealng. Why not 712.4 or 712.6? The faux precision tells me that both the source, Bernhardt, and the writer, Pasta, are clueless and have no idea what they are talking about.

    • Don’t confuse the message with the writer: the comment you are referring to is quoted directly from the newspaper article, which is why it is in quotation marks.

  29. Well, I’ve got two solar panels in my back garden. They cost nothing except a bit of spade work and some manure. So far I have lettuce, beetroot, cabbage and carrots growing in them thanks to direct solar power. Why would I spend £2000 to cover them in glass panels to get enough electricity to run my kettle during the day when there is a huge power station at Hinkley point doing it for me?. The logic behind covering land to produce unwanted electricity escapes me. Even the desert is stunningly beautiful as the sun traverses the sky. How can they claim that this travesty is somehow improving our lot. Even without the math clearly demonstrating the pointlessness of it, why do people want to destroy what we have to create what we don’t need? Don’t answer that, it is purely rhetoric.

  30. Gemini Solar Power Plant

    It’s a disgrace to associate a solar powder-puff plant with a famous, successful pioneering space program.

  31. What the solar farm will provide over its lifetime is enough energy to power 80 thousand cars or 260 thousand houses or to produce 1 new solar farm.

    What is always excluded from the cost benefit analysis is the simple fact that that it takes as much energy to produce the panel as the panel will produce in its lifetime.

    • Good grief no it doesn’t! Even 20 years ago there was evidence posted that energy neutrality was reached in around 2-4 years for silicon solar cells with 14% efficiency. They are more efficient now and iirc modern wafers are thinner, contributing to cost down.
      If what you asserted were true then the cost of the energy would be reflected in the price of the panel and this would be prohibitive.
      The note I found very quickly was at http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/24619.pdf

  32. If solar power is profitable, why are solar panel factories not solar powered?

    Wouldn’t it make sense. Build 1 solar panel, then use that to make a second, then use 2 panels to make 4, 4 to make 8, 8 to make 16 until you have millions of panels. Then use those millions of panels to make millions more to take to market.

    With all those solar panels producing solar panels it should cost almost nothing to make more panels, and your profits should be huge. But that is not what we see. Why?

    • There’s a lot more to it than just energy obviously – raw materials refining and so on. Manufactures of solar panels may not refine their own silicon and then dope the wafers etc. You need aluminium, glass, silver or copper for interconnections and cables, and so on.

      I found a rather good (if longish) study made only 4 years ago which covers the energy input of the whole solar generation system. Bottom line – energy payback in about 1.5 years (YMMV).

      See https://www.carboncommentary.com/blog/2016/12/8/musqo7036dslptm1b8efduj6i3e7ms

      Incidentally the one published paper that suggests no payback in 25 years is by 2 Swiss guys Ferroni and Hopkirk. Please don’t quote it at me. It appears to have been worthy of the best climate alarmists in selecting its data and arriving at its conclusions. There’s a pretty good debunking at https://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/another-pv-eroei-debacle/

      I would add that I am no climate alarmist. But we should all try to stick to the facts, even if there is room for interpretation!

      • John Dawson, the article for which you provided the link is a joke. First, you have to go to another article link in that article’s second sentence to find the longish “study made only 4 years ago”, which is titled “Re-assessment of net energy production and greenhouse gas emissions avoidance after 40 years of photovoltaics development”.

        In that linked article there are these statements in the Results section:
        “Recent meta-analyses of LCA studies on crystalline PV systems established average values for environmental footprint of PV systems, and found energy payback times to be 3.1 and 4.1 years for poly and mono- Si, respectively, based on studies conducted between 2005 and 2013.”
        and
        “Still, especially for energy pay-back time (which is calculated from reported system CED according to the procedure described in the Methods section) a clear decrease of environmental footprint over time can be observed. Energy pay-back times drop from around 5 years in 1992 to around just under 1 year for poly-Si and just over 1 year for mono-Si PV systems currently.”

        And in the Methods section, there are these statements:
        “For the studies on the energy payback time and greenhouse gas footprint of PV module production, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain in retrospect whether the studies were performed using a consistent method . . . we have adopted a simpler screening process: the LCA studies should report CED and/or GHG emissions for a complete PV system with enough meta-information to convert the reported units to our harmonised units (see section), and should analyse existing production processes (not prospective, worst or best case processes).”
        This is followed by a bunch of convoluted math, appealing to such things as “harmonization of data”, “assumed degradation of performance”, “experience curve”, and “the theory of technological learning”.

        And the subsection on “Experience curve” has this admission in its final paragraph:
        “. . . the relationship between price and cumulative production is indirect (while that between production cost and cumulative production is direct), as market dynamics can influence the margin between cost and price. Only in a stable market phase does the price-experience curve have the same slope as a cost-experience curve. However, as only price data is available for the period under study, we focus on the price-experience curve.”

        So, what we have here is some historical payback time data that has been conflated with “environment footprint impacts” and subjected to arm-waving adjustments, an obscure tie-in to CED (cumulative energy demand), some questionable assumptions, and vaguely-justified “learning”/”experience” curves using one or more CUSTOMIZED MATHEMATICAL MODELS to predict what payback times should be, not what they really were based on then-current data (the payback time model projections ended at year 2015; the article was published in Dec 2016).

        This study has no bottoms-up financial accounting of the payback times using then-current prices or costs for products and services to construct and operate a “whole solar generation system” and there is no credible basis presented to support the claim of “energy payback in about 1.5 years”, which I am certain no PV manufacturer/installer would guarantee—with hard dollars—even today.

        So this study, IMHO, does deserve the adjective “good.”

      • Bottom line – energy payback in about 1.5 years (YMMV).

        ROFLMFAO. Believe that? You never took first-year engineering economics, did you….

  33. The $1 billion Gemini solar and battery storage project
    ==========
    Over its lifetime, the project can be expected to generate $1 billion dollars worth of electricity at current wholesale prices. To generate a profit, wholesale power prices will necessarily rise.

    • And that is why, Ferd, I installed solar panels on my Las Vegas home.

      Having run electric power generation, transmission and distribution systems, I knew the extra costs of solar are a significant driver of electric rates. And having worked with Nevada politicians and electric regulators, I knew they were going to mandate more and more expensive solar generation.

      Since our electric power provider was mandated to pay me for my excess generation provided to the system at the retail rate they charged me for energy, it was a no-brainer to add solar. Thank you, NV Energy consumers, for subsidizing my electric power.

  34. We still don’t have reliable information about what those monsters cost the tax- and ratepayer. There should be a place where concerned citizens can get real data. Like a list of all the subsidies it gets, all the free services it gets as subsidies and what politicians have been responsible for building it. Full transparency down to the brand of the underwear of the CEO or they do what they say they can do. Skip all aids and subsidies and survive on the open market. What’s it going to be?

  35. The more i tegrated solar power, the bigger the duck curve — the mismatch between supply and demand. They partially solve that by paying other entities to bleed off the excess, and charge a premium for peak hours usage. Beyond that, what do they plan?
    Flatten the duck. Beware the euphamistic label “demand response.” It is another way of saying we will decide when you can and can’t use electricity.

  36. I was taught when I was a Schoolboy, many years ago don’t believe anything you hear,and about half of what you see, because what you see is not always what you think it is!!

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