Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Large Scale 24/7 Solar Power Plant To Be Built in Nevada

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the let-the-sun-shine-in dept.

Government 475

RayTomes writes "The Obama administration has provided a loan guarantee of $737 million to construct the first large-scale solar power plant that stores energy and provides electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." This solar power project, a heliostat rather than a photovoltaic system, with a molten salt system to store power as heat for times when the sun isn't shining, will be constructed in Nevada and, says the article, is expected to create "600 construction jobs and 45 permanent positions."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Haven't we learned anything? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227702)

Nuclear power is a dangerous thing.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227734)

So is a metal spoon.

It all depends on context.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (3, Funny)

dainbug (678555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227812)

Yeah, but when metal spoons explodes (like they do all the time)....you can just walk over and pick up the pieces.....right then, no need to evacuate for 500 years.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227938)

right then, no need to evacuate for 500 years.

No nuclear plant has yet caused a 500 year evacuation.

Brilliant use of logic there... (2)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228140)

No nuclear plant has yet caused a 500 year evacuation.

And should a nuclear disaster happen yesterday, there won't be a 500-year evacuation caused by that particular nuclear disaster for about... oh... say, another 500 years.

Re:Brilliant use of logic there... (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228236)

That's merely an advantage of my position that we all know I'll be right for at least 500 years.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228018)

an hydro dam is a dangerous thing: more dangerous than a nuclear plant looking at history.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam [wikipedia.org]

a coal plant is a dangerous thing but it's a sort of low level constant danger.
http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/cleanair.htm [ecomall.com]

drilling a hole for gas or geothermal is a dangerous thing
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Locals_Block_Work_At_Indonesian_Mud_Volcano_999.html [terradaily.com]

etc etc
Every energy source has dangers and problems.
So it makes sense to simply pick the ones which kill the fewest people overall.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228104)

The earth is a dangerous thing, and must be destroyed before it destroys us

Tribulation will start once... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228164)

Then can we please finish iterating through all possible forms of government so that the tribulation can start?

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (2)

MDillenbeck (1739920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228210)

Exactly - everything has a cost associated with it. Why do I not like nuclear? A few reasons. First, it still relies on mining and shipping of feedstock. Second, there is a long term cost associated with storing its waste products. Third, the US has made it abundantly clear that this is not a global solution - we will actively block many nations from obtaining this source of power. Fourth, the last numbers I heard were if all the power generated across the globe was replaced by nuclear power, we could mine enough to last the world about 3 years (I do need to redo the research, as I don't recall the original sources - and I know many will not take what I learned in a college course as a reliable source). I often wonder what our wind and solar technology would be like in the US if they didn't pull the Production Tax Credit every few years (which causes the industry to collapse after a period of strong growth), and wonder if other energy production systems lost their government backing what would have happened to their viability in terms of cost....

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228096)

Reading the original post again, I must correct myself. Fission power has been shown to be safe, but fusion is radically dangerous. For example, someone has let fusion fuel pile up in the center of the Solar System, resulting in uncontrolled fusion! It is likely that we won't be able to live there for billions if not trillions of years.

Fusion in Sol is hardly uncontrolled (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228204)

Fusion in a star like Sol is hardly uncontrolled. The weight of the fuel balances out the pressure that the fusion creates, just as the engineer intended.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228124)

Yeah, but when metal spoons explodes (like they do all the time)....you can just walk over and pick up the pieces.....right then, no need to evacuate for 500 years.

And when this explodes, we'll have to clean up salt, glass, and water. I highly doubt that any of those things will force a 500 year evac.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228342)

But it could hurt anyway, the article says they store the energy where the sun doesn't shine.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227954)

That's no spoon, it's a knife.

Another round of spoony knifey anyone?

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227968)

Metal spoons don't create radioactive waste with a half life of centuries.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228302)

Nuclear reactors don't make radioactive waste. The depleted fuel was radioactive prior to use in the reactor, otherwise they wouldn't be using it as fuel. The main difference is that unlike the radioactive waste from a coal plant, the nuclear plant's waste is bundle up for disposal rather than being spread all over the planet.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228122)

Exactly. Reactor size is important. A relatively small reactor, like the one recently hit by a Tsunami, may cause problems to a few tens, maybe hundreds, of square kilometres, if it explodes. A reactor the size of the Sun, however, will cause devastation in a sphere several AUs in diameter. Even in normal operation, it is likely to leak dangerous radiation over almost half of the planet, causing skin cancer. The Sun is therefore obviously too dangerous to use for power generation, and should be decommissioned as soon as possible.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

MDillenbeck (1739920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228238)

You're right - we should decommission the sun before a Tsunami or Earthquake on the planet Earth damages it and causes a risk of explosion....

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228252)

Moreover, even if one could justify putting the sun there, putting it there without appropriate shielding clearly isn't responsible. The sun emits so much light that you can go blind if you look directly into it. Certainly the earth should be protected from the sun by some sort of shield which blocks the light of the sun, or at least dims it enough that you can look into it without danger.

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228090)

Yes, but what has that to do with solar energy?

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228274)

What again powers the sun?

Re:Haven't we learned anything? (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228284)

I skimmed the article pretty carefully. Where do you get nuclear from it? This looks like the perfect alternative to nuclear.

Fix the fucking water problem first. (1)

sakura the mc (795726) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227738)

So when Lake Mead dries up in the next few years and the dam can no longer provide electricity, WHO THE FUCK IS GOING TO BENEFIT FROM THIS when basically most of Southern Nevada that does not have well water has to pack up and get the fuck out.

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (3, Informative)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227806)

Nevada will have no problem selling power to California. In state power generation is not always consumed in state, intrastate power transmission is very common.

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227940)

It's estimated that Lake Mead will go up ~30 feet this year [elynews.com] due to the extreme amount of snowfall we had last winter. Nature will solve this problem for us!

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228000)

It's estimated that Lake Mead will go up ~30 feet this year [elynews.com] due to the extreme amount of snowfall we had last winter. Nature will solve this problem for us!

Thank God for Global Warming(tm)!

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228300)

The height of conservative thought would seem to be snarky unsubstantiated remarks saying that any report of snowfall to be convincing proof of the great conspiracy that is climate change. It's just a common troll meant to inflame rather than to 'educate', but it's the basis of Poe's law.

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (1)

sakura the mc (795726) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228006)

When I can no longer see where the water level USED TO BE, I shall be satisified.

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228178)

You should be satisfied now.. The water level USED TO BE at the bottom of the canyon, and you can't see that, can you?

Here's some news for everybody. The planet's water supply hasn't changed noticeably in 4 billion years.. The water isn't going anywhere for quite a while.. It's only that people are too lazy/cheap to transport it where it's needed..

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228278)

If you RTFA, then you would notice that the US government doesn't actually pay for this. It's a private enterprise that takes the loan... all the US government does is guarantee that this (admittedly high risk) investment will be paid back.
And please note that the high risk doesn't so much come from the technology, but more from the regulations and utilities (like cables and the electricity network which will need a 110 MW upgrade at certain places). So, that guarantee means in practice that power lines will be built/improved at a fraction of the cost of the power plant, and regulations will be made... The US government is not gonna pay all that money.

If you have a business case which gets the 'fucking' water back in that lake (and will make profit), then I'm sure you will get a guarantee from the government too.

Re:Fix the fucking water problem first. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228312)

The water problem is easy to fix. All it needs is to be priced right. Remember Economics 101? A shortage [wikipedia.org] is "when the price of an item is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand."

Such a bargain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227742)

Only $16.3 million per job. baaaaaaaaah.

Well, you get electricity for free with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227948)

Or did you forget about that?

You DO know you can "sell" this electricity and make money off it, don't you?

Re:Well, you get electricity for free with that (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228304)

Yeah, it's a common scam: The electric current they send you through one wire, they get back through the other. Therefore they don't need to produce new current, they just sell the same current over and over again. ;-)

Re:Such a bargain. (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228222)

When I read posts like this, I frequently wonder if they mean to troll or are just so stupid they honestly just don't realize they are being stupid.

Fallout: New Vegas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227762)

I think I blew this place up...

Perfect name (2)

Toksyuryel (1641337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227768)

They should totally name this the HELIOS One.

Re:Perfect name (1)

buckeyeguy (525140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227992)

damn, beaten to the punchline. Think they know they'll need interior defenses to keep the ghouls and nightkin down?

WOW green jobs! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227770)

those permanent jobs cost over 15 million apiece.
Even if we factor in the construction jobs, $1 million a job is a terrible waste of money.

Re:WOW green jobs! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228318)

Absolutelly. They would lose less money to pay 50 guys walking in circles or just standing there. The greens have absolutely no common sense.

Re:WOW green jobs! (2)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228330)

Loan guarantee, not subsidy. It can create those jobs for 0$ in government money spend, or it can waste the full amount in government money or anything in between (if the company goes bankrupt but government wants to see it finished rather than just paying of the debt and forgetting about it, it could chose to pay for the cost overruns to finish it to recoup some losses).

About $10K per home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227784)

SolarReserve said the molten salt can extend Crescent Dunes’ daily operation by 10 to 12 hours and the project can power 75,000 homes at peak output.

Doing a little math:

perl -E 'say 737_000_000/75_000'
9826.66666666667

That's nearly ten thousand dollars per home it's suppling electricity to. How much are average electricity bills in Nevada?

Re:About $10K per home (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227832)

They are over nine thousand dollars.

2 Minor Points (3, Insightful)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227840)

1st, the loan is 737m. That's not the total cost.

2nd, you are looking at capital costs. What is going to be the running costs and lifespan of the project? Drop that into a spreadsheet to calculate the IRR and cost per Watt. [and what the heck - one could be generous and throw in some type of carbon credit / R&D thing too.]

Re:About $10K per home (2)

norpy (1277318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227860)

And personal photovoltaic setups cost (or at least once did) $10k+ per home, capital costs don't have to be made back in a month you know.

Re:About $10K per home (2)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227866)

Maybe I'm troll food, but your calculation there is with a payback immediately, i would guess a more reasonable payback would be 15 years, which puts the average annual cost per household at $800 dollars (just a WAG, I understand there's interest involved and such) which is pretty reasonable. This is also the first one, which usually means a substantial premium. So you get the jobs, and the power plant, and if the power plants lifetime is similar to that of a coal plant it would seem to be a really good first step. Better than funding intelligence agencies to build a repository of metaphors for instance.

Re:About $10K per home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227990)

"So you get the jobs" - bah the jobs aren't valuable in and of themselves. If we just wanted to employ people, we could pay them to go out there and hold mirrors pointing at it.

Re:About $10K per home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228242)

but your calculation there is with a payback immediately

Er, no I didn't. I didn't mention a single timeframe in my post. I just stated a loan value per house it's supplying electricity to, and asked how much electricity costs (I'm in the UK - I have no idea what you're paying for power in Nevada.)

Re:About $10K per home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227884)

Don't forget to factor in the cost of fuel...

But not in one year. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228010)

$9826 sounds like a lot of money. . . until you realize that the cost is amortized over some period of time. I don't know what the actual life of the facility will be, but I would think 50 years sounds reasonable. So, if we divide by 50 years, that comes to about $200 per house per year.

However, we also have to factor in that on top of construction costs, there are ongoing maintenance an operation costs, so maybe it comes to about $250/house/yr. That still doesn't sound outrageous to me. I think I pay like $400/year for electricity on my 1-bedroom apartment - and I'm not a large electricity consumer. I have a fridge, stove, microwave (and the stove and microwave I only use maybe 2-4 times a week), a computer, a WiFi router, a cell phone I charge at night, a couple ham radio batteries (1500mAh and 1800mAh) I occasionally charge, and lights (most of my lights are efficient CFLs). In the summer, I run a window A/C unit sometimes - but I'm only cooling a small space.

I don't know what their actual maint/ops costs will be, but $10k per household, if the plant lasts 40-50 years, just doesn't sound particularly expensive.

Dunno, article leaves out information (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227834)

The initial cost is much higher than a fossil fuel plant. But without trains full of coal running in for a twenty year typical operating life that still could make it practical. What they don't talk about, because they probably can't, is what the annual operating costs will look like. Since they have never tried this molten salt thing on a commercial scale they likely just don't know.

I'm normally against pissing away money on hopeless green projects but this one might be worth trying since the math isn't totally hopeless.

Of course the second it actually works the greens will be dead set against it. Gotta be some obscure critter living out in that desert ya know,

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

Tyler Durden (136036) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227910)

Of course the second it actually works the greens will be dead set against it. Gotta be some obscure critter living out in that desert ya know,

Just market it as a power generator and Archimedes Bug Zapper.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (2)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227964)

Molten salt has been used before. Spain opened the Andasol Solar Power Station [wikipedia.org] in 2009. The Wikipedia article says it basically doubles the output of the plant, and the thermal reserve can keep it generating electricity for almost 8 hours in total darkness.

More interesting is that it takes twice as much water (per kwh) to run as a normal power plant, and that could end up being a problem in Nevada.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227982)

Solar requires water to keep the mirrors clean, something not exactly abundant in the desert.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228092)

No, you can use air or some sort of wiper mechanism. Lots of ways to deal with this problem if getting water is that hard.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (5, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228034)

Of course the second it actually works the greens will be dead set against it. Gotta be some obscure critter living out in that desert ya know,

Because, just like Slashdotters, "The Greens" isn't a homogeneous group of people with identical opinions, nor is "environmentalists".

You can be an "environmentalist" and only care about the aesthetic appearance of countryside during your own lifetime (therefore opposed to onshore wind turbines).
Or you can be an "environmentalist" and only care about CO2 emissions and their long term effect (probably in favour of onshore wind turbines)
Or any of hundreds of differing viewpoints.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (-1, Flamebait)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228076)

That's because greens don't hate pollution or love the planet, they simply hate modern industrialization- once any power source becomes serious to the point where you might run a big grey,boring, serious factory off it rather than just some desk lights in an idyllic farmstead it becomes the enemy.

Tidal was a darling until the first big tital plants actually started being built.

The details are just justification.
it boils down to factories and cities: bad,
little cottages in the mountains:good.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228126)

These "Greens" are not one big group sharing a hive brain. There are lots of viewpoints. Personally I would love to see something like this take off. We have lots of deserts that are pretty much unlivable and would be finally put to good use. At the same time I think we should prevent any new coal plants from being built. Nuclear might have a little issue every couple decades, but coal kills people and destroys air quality all the time. Then for extra fun every couple decades it destroys large area when a slurry ponds break.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (0)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228308)

I quite agree, yes the greens are not one single group but every hardliner "political" or activist style green I've ever talked to about such things has seemed to have some kind of image in their head of people living in lots of little spread out farmsteads and doing away with big industry... quite divorced from what's actually good for the environment.

I think this plant is a good thing too, I'd love to see the deserts covered in solar thermal if it can be done for a halfway decent price and unlike it's cousin PV solar thermal has the potential to provide reliable power and be more than a toy.

side point:I'm curious what water source it uses for the generators.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228310)

You're an idiot if you believe that.

I would probably be classed as a green, in that I would rather we didn't f*** up the environment whilst using industrialised processes. I certainly like the price of the fuel for green energy - after all we spend millions of $ per year on the sun. Oh no - that's right it's free.

But I'm also a realist. I like my car, but I would prefer an electric one, especially if the power used was produced with green energy.
I like having the conveniences of cities, although I prefer a smaller town to a larger one.
I certainly don't oppose factories, the stuff I like to have around me is often produced in one.
I'm not opposed to big businesses, but I am opposed to big businesses who think that because they are big, they can pollute the environment without consequence - because it's "all about the jobs". Never mind the fact that it will pollute the river the factory uses, so no one can use the water for anything else.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228336)

after all we spend millions of $ per year on the sun. Oh no - that's right it's free.

Efficiently harvesting energy from the sun does cost millions of $ per year.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228102)

The average coal plant in the US that has been retired has been at 49 years, a LOT more than 20! Heck none of the coal plants with modern emissions control systems has been retired due to the operators wishing to recoup those investments.

Funy how it's always "someone else" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228110)

Because you say earlier:

"I'm normally against pissing away money on hopeless green projects"

seems to indicate that you don't care about hopeless non-green projects, but YOU insist that the greens will start going against it when it works...

Yeah. That's called "projection", kid.

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228128)

Since they have never tried this molten salt thing on a commercial scale they likely just don't know.

We have a 10MW and a 15MW commercial heliostat in Spain ... since years.
angel'o'sphere

Re:Dunno, article leaves out information (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228346)

Of course the second it actually works the greens will be dead set against it. Gotta be some obscure critter living out in that desert ya know,

Although I like your sense of humor, and I partially agree with you, I would like to ask you to differentiate between green entrepreneurs (people like the guys who want to build this solar plant, who aren't about maximizing profit, but are still practical and realistic) and the nature freaks who are just unreasonable.

Another $1B wasted (1)

marketingnews (2194884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227898)

Ok great, yey another way to blow away a billlion dollars which could have been better spent on the usual "non headline worthy" things such as education, health and policing. When will society learn?

Re:Another $1B wasted (3, Informative)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228008)

It's a loan guarantee, meaning we cosigned with the bank for them. The taxpayers are only out if this thing can not pay back it's loan.

Re:Another $1B wasted (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228100)

It's a loan guarantee, meaning we cosigned with the bank for them. The taxpayers are only out if this thing can not pay back it's loan.

But if it made financial sense, it probably wouldn't need loan guarantees.

Re:Another $1B wasted (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228292)

The taxpayers are only out if this thing can not pay back it's loan.

And the cost appears to be roughly $7 per watt. So there's a good chance this company won't pay back its loan.

Re:Another $1B wasted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228086)

Yeah, education is way more important than a sustainable civilization.

Not wasted. Base load non-fossil power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228170)

It is a loan guarantee. While I strongly support nuclear and loan guarantees for that program, I am just fine with renewable receiving the same loan guarantees that nuclear would receive. What I am against is subsidizing solar/wind/whatever with feed-in levies - that's a waste considering technology is mature for both (PV solar is semiconductor, and if semiconductor industry is not mature, I don't know what is).

Nevada is a great place for this type of project. It will provide base power and there is tons of sun around.

Nuclear power makes great sense in places where there is less sun, line any non-desert area and especially places like UK. But I was always against building nuclear power plants in deserts, like Saudi Arabia or Nevada. These places receive lots of sun, every day. Use that energy. Solar-thermal solutions are 100% efficient at converting energy into heat. 25-35% final efficiency is very reachable and it is base load capable. Something that we can't say for PV solar.

Re:Another $1B wasted (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228334)

You're right, we don't need power plants.

a heliostat rather than a photovoltaic system? (1)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227906)

Those two aren't mutually exclusive. In fact they're pretty commonly used together. Summary should read "a solar thermal plant rather than photovoltaic, using a molten salt system to store power as heat for times when the sun isn't shining".

Why does this cost 3/4 of a billion dollars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227928)

I'm not seeing how it would cost so much to build this.

Re:Why does this cost 3/4 of a billion dollars? (3, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228094)

A lot of it is probably insurance. Nobody really wants to be liable for the costs of a solar spill.

And then there's the extra construction cost, due to the workers all having to wear SPF 5000 sunscreen. Extra security, because of all the monotheists who will be protesting the false god Apollo. Fuel costs. MirrorUniverseWalls. You can't imagine all the expensive problems involved in a project like this.

Re:Why does this cost 3/4 of a billion dollars? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228194)

The average output is 55 MW so that comes to $13/Watt. Estimates for the cost of new Turkey Point nuclear power from a couple years ago were about $8/Watt and assuming about 80% up time that comes to $10/Watt average capacity. With typical nuclear power cost overruns, we'd get about $20/Watt. Given that nuclear power is on a negative learning curve http://climateprogress.org/2011/04/06/does-nuclear-power-have-a-negative-learning-curve/ [climateprogress.org] it seems as though the cost of the solar plant is pretty good.

Waste of money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227934)

It will provide electricity 24 hours, 7 days a week... but only produce electricity at less than 12 hrs a day at about 15-20% efficiency (further decreased due to the storage)... who cares about the 600 temporary jobs.. the cost is then at about ~16 mill per employee for the permanent positions. Way to blow cash.. should have spent that 737 million on research in solar instead so that the cost of future plants and efficiency of the panels would increase.

Re:Waste of money (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228148)

We aren't spending that money, just co-signing the loan. If you want a good ration of money spent to people getting paychecks we should just put everyone on welfare.

How do you plan on reducing the cost of mirrors? Because those are the only panels in a molten-salt plant like this.

neogods; mutate or die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227950)

just so you know, we genuine native 'americans' were never "savages". now you'll learn where that word, & the genocidal behavior behind, came from. cavemen. you'll get some first hand at that too

Amazing, (1)

idji (984038) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227956)

Las Vegas might become environmentally sustainable!

Re:Amazing, (4, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228058)

Yep. But it's a gamble.

645 Net Jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227958)

When calculating the jobs is that net jobs, or gross jobs? Because the $737 million has to come from somewhere. Did they remember to subtract that jobs that could have been created if the money stayed in the hands of the private sector?

Speaking of Water... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36227972)

How much water is it going to take to keep 17,400 mirrors clean in a dusty, windy desert?

Stores energy, not power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228014)

This solar power project, a heliostat rather than a photovoltaic system, with a molten salt system to store power as heat for times when the sun isn't shining,

Power is the rate at which energy is provided. It will store energy, not power. Since it is planned to be a 110 MW plant, it should store roughly 1300 MWh (i.e. 4.8 terajoules) for the nighttime use.

pernament employees per MW (4, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228030)

So the plant is suppose to produce 480,000 MWh per year which works out to an average capacity of 55 MW. So we get 0.8 permanent employees per MW. http://www.tonopahsolar.com/ [tonopahsolar.com]

At slashdot's favorite nuclear power plant Vermont Yankee, there are more that 650 employees for a plant that does not manage to run at 620 MW all that well. Let's give them 80% up time. That is 1.3 employees per MW.

Nuclear power seems less efficient than solar power by this measure. Maybe nuclear power is just a "make work" type jobs program which actually hurts the economy overall.

Re:pernament employees per MW (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228112)

Alternatively, maybe human resources is not the largest expense of a power plant?

I know, for computer programmers this is a hard attitude to get used to.

Re:pernament employees per MW (3, Interesting)

llZENll (545605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228234)

Interesting metric. What probably counts more is the level of education required for those employees. My guess is in a heliostat most of the labor involved has to do with cleaning the mirrors, now you are talking an unskilled $10/hour job vs a nuclear plant tech that is making $50+/hour, even if there were 5 employees per MW in the solar plant it would still be better. Looking at raw employees per MW doesn't seem to be of much use. The much more important issues are rather obvious:

1) no nuclear waste
2) no nuclear fuel
3) the worst that could happen is some molten salt all over the desert
4) workers require less training and clearances
5) the plant is much less of a terrorist target

About the only downsides are cost and land space, since in the USA we have an abundance of both (compared to every other industrialized nation) we should be building these things all over the place, even in not so sunny places. Since no body wants to cut the defense budget (which is massively overinflated and a waste IMO) we should have the army start building and running these.

Thank You (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228052)

Siteniz çok güzel olmu, çalmalarnzda baarlar diliyorum...
Bilgisayar Kursu [bilgisayarkursu.co] ingilizce kursu [ingilizcekurs.co] Joomla Kursu [joomlakursu.com] Grafik Kursu [grafikkursu.co]
    Grafikerlik Kursu [grafikerlikkursu.co]
Ehliyet Kursu [ehliyetkursu.co] Web Kursu [webkursu.co] MuhasebeKursu [muhasebekursu.co]

The proper role of government (5, Interesting)

omems (1869410) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228056)

I 'm not certain about the numbers involved, but I'm happy to see the government doing what I believe it should: promoting things that are good for us that we wouldn't otherwise get. By that I mean buffering the long-term payoff on things that cost too much for the market to provide now.

Solar plant, or potential weapon? You be the judge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228144)

I'm waiting for when some mad scientist decides to try to take over the facility and reverse its power in attempt to blot out the sun and take over the world, adding maniacal laughter as he goes until some ragtag band of heroes puts a stop to him...

Keeping it safe (1)

jsnipy (913480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228174)

Don't let the NCR take hold it

:D (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228188)

Proud to say that MY GAY GIRLFRIEND helped with some of the initial groundwork :)

Re::D (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228356)

Is she...hot? ;-)

What about the environment: I'm serious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228206)

What effect does a massive solar farm have on the environment? Consider large swaths of dessert covered in solar panels. Light is no longer reaching the deserts surface which (presumably) will cause it to cool. Also, wont morning dew hang around longer, saturating the earth? What could the environmental impact (if any) be?

Also consider wind farms. If you drive through the Mid-West you will see farmland with rows of trees. The Army Corp. of Engineers planted them in the 1930's dust-bowl era to slow the wind down. It worked very well, restoring the environment. Now back to wind farms. Drive through the middle of Iowa sometime, a wind farm can stretch for hours of driving down the interstate. Would these not also slow down the wind causing man made environmental changes over time?

Don't get me wrong on this, I am not a tree hugger sounding an alarm. These are honest questions that I am curious about.

Personally I am hoping the national ignition facility works out, but that might be a little off topic.

Thanks,

The one the only AC.

I don't like it (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228212)

As noted several times already, this is a joke if you look at it merely as jobs created. If you look at it in terms of power generation, it is still unimpressive. The plant will generate something like 100MW of power (enough to power 75k US homes). So that's a cost of $7 per watt of solar. Even modest generation of power outside of peak solar (which I might add is also times of low power demand) won't help very much. It's generally considered that competitive solar will happen when solar power hits $1 per watt. So this is far short.

Second, the loan guarantee is a gimmick. Given the cost per watt, there's no way the power plant will be as valuable as the money being laid out for it and I don't see the power producer paying off the loan. This means that the startup will likely go bankrupt and the loan guarantee will be called. Then the loan guarantee, which incidentally doesn't appear as money spent in the federal budget, becomes so in practice.

Who knows how many of these obligations the US (and other countries!) have of this sort, but it's worth remembering that a good portion of the US's TARP bailout for bankers was actually a payout of a US guarantee on two vast, real estate investment corporations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In all, this is a remarkably poor investment for the US by any standard that makes fiscal sense. But it "buys civilization", right?

Why not wind power instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228228)

I'm sure there is enough hot air in those two heads to power a friggin' universe for eons. Stupid Idea from a Stupid President ...to help a stupid lap dog named Harry Reid for his asshole loyalty.

Wrong approach (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228258)

This will use a combined solar thermal collector/salt storage, powering a thermal engine. Not a problem. However, what that does is use the solar thermal to heat the storage and then power it all nightlong. So, for example, if you want a 100 MW output 24x7, you will need 300-400 MW tower (a lot more money). Not an issue. BUT, the storage is what is important. It would be better for the companies going into this, to split out the storage portion and make it distributed. In particular, America has a large number of OLD coal-based power plants that are going to go away over the next 20-30 years. Many of these are currently inside of cities. They are typically 50-100 MW in size (which was large monsters in the day). They have power lines that emanate from them. They also have cooling plants (typically, water), combined with steam engines/generators. But all that is really needed to be changed is that piping re-upped, and the coal boiler dropped. Instead, put in a high temp salt storage system, and use electricity to bring the temp up. With this approach, you can have a large CHEAP battery. The argument against it will be the inefficiency of it. There will be a loss of energy of roughly 50%. However, current tech with CASE, Hydro, batteries, etc. all have losses of 20-40% or so, but have many drawbacks. Hydro and Case can only be used in certain areas and are expensive. Batteries are VERY expensive to install, though they have the advantage of going anywhere.

In the end, the question should not be how efficient it is, but how economical it is. A thermal storage that has little costs to set-up, but will last for 20-30 years (within 10-15 years, ultra-caps will become the dominant form of new storage, and would then replace this). That approach extends this equipment for very little costs. More importantly, it would enable ALL FORMS of Alternative Energy to provide power as they can, since the salt storage would act as a buffer for demand systems. Right now, America loses something like 12 GW yearly because they have to feather wind generators at night. Likewise, we have gas turbine generator that are built to handle the demand, esp. when AE falls. With a thermal storage, it provide our demand system, while allowing AE to run at full power.

What happens if the molten salt cools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228270)

One thing that bothers me about this design - what happens if the molten salt cools, say due to some event that causes a plant shutdown (earthquake perhaps?). Is the whole thing trashed because the pipes are all full of solidified salt? Or is there some mechanism to liquify the salt in that event?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?