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Largest US Power Storing Solar Array Goes Live

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the here-somes-the-sun dept.

Power 377

Lucas123 writes "A solar power array that covers three square miles with 3,200 mirrored parabolic collectors went live this week, creating enough energy to power 70,000 homes in Arizona. The Solana Solar Power Plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, was built at a cost of $2 billion, and financed in large part by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The array is the world's largest parabolic trough plant, meaning it uses parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on moving structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat. A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather."

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WTF (-1, Offtopic)

presspass (1770650) | about a year ago | (#45097153)

I was wondering why my solar panels suddenly went dark.

Damn.

Re:WTF (5, Insightful)

sfm (195458) | about a year ago | (#45097191)

The plant doesn't really store electricity. It can however, store heated salts that can be used to generate electricity well after sunset.

Re:WTF (2)

TechnoCore (806385) | about a year ago | (#45097241)

The real question is, can it withstand fracking underneath?

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097815)

I don't know about you but fracking with hot salts is not my idea of fun, hot wax well that's different.

Re:WTF (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097395)

it also seems stupid to use a turbine that requires water in the middle of a desert and is subject to the energy lost in conversion. I'm a fan of the "by all means necessary" approach to solving our energy problems but this is just a huge waste IMO. Perhaps it has use as a prototype, otherwise I'm not convinced it's a good idea, at all.

Re:WTF (2)

Shadowmist (57488) | about a year ago | (#45097649)

it also seems stupid to use a turbine that requires water in the middle of a desert and is subject to the energy lost in conversion. I'm a fan of the "by all means necessary" approach to solving our energy problems but this is just a huge waste IMO. Perhaps it has use as a prototype, otherwise I'm not convinced it's a good idea, at all.

Can you think of another way of generating electricity from heat on a commercial scale?

Re:WTF (2, Funny)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45097717)

Shhh... Don't argue. The average slashdotter has a lot better technological insight than what "stupid" people with a paltry $2000000000 credit line could ever access.

Re:WTF (5, Insightful)

Salgat (1098063) | about a year ago | (#45097495)

Technically nothing stores electricity except for super-cooled superconductors. Batteries "store electricity" in the form of chemical energy and even capacitors only "store electricity" as two charged plates. But I think we all know what they meant, that it was storing the potential for electricity.

Re:WTF (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45097531)

Well after sunset?

Actually, when you read up on it, the storage capacity is exhausted shortly after sunset. 6 Hours max.
The efficiency falls off at low sun angles.

Sunset usually happens right at peak demand time, evening cooking, and late afternoon air conditioning.
Plus the site has high ground to the immediate west, sunset comes earlier for them.

Don't get me wrong, this is an impressive feat of engineering.

It was installed very fast, hacked out of prime farm land (or as prime as it gets in Arizona).
Google Maps Satellite view, with imagery dated 2013 http://goo.gl/maps/Qh7e5 [goo.gl] shows nothing
but desert with truck roads laid out, and now they are up and running.

(Either that or Google is Playing Fast and Loose with image dates, because Google Earth shows the same
images but has a 2010 date on them)

Re:WTF (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45097569)

shortly after sunset. 6 Hours

Those education cuts really did hurt :(

Re:WTF (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45097731)

shortly after sunset. 6 Hours

Those education cuts really did hurt :(

The efficiency falls off at low sun angles.
It falls off faster for solar hotwater (like this plant) than for photo-voltaic.
You start drawing on your stored heat WELL BEFORE sunset, usually several
hours before sunset, because as I pointed out that is the peak demand period, and your
storage is exhausted in 6 hours, from the time you start drawing.

So maybe two or three hours after sunset your storage is exhausted.
Its a long time till sunrise.

Re:WTF (2)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#45097681)

What I don't get is why they only went for six hours of storage capacity? A few years ago, a friend of mine described an idea to me for a salt tank system that would take days to come up to working temperature, and days to cool off. You'd just add heat whenever you could, and draw power whenever you needed it. His estimate was that the power would end up costing 3 to 4 cents per KwH.

-jcr

pricing (5, Interesting)

Moblaster (521614) | about a year ago | (#45097211)

So I'm not going to respond to the first post because it makes no sense. But I'll happily use the "first reply" spot, thank you very much, to actually say something. This $2 billion plant breaks down to close to $30,000 per home serviced. Seems a wee bit excessive, considering the average home electric bill in Arizona runs something like $200 (I researched the web for a few minutes to estimate this). Consider that installing a home solar system would run something like $10-$20k at most in a sunny place like Arizona (considerably less w various tax incentives). Looking like a bit of a boondoggle?

Re:pricing (5, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097297)

Covering your home in solar panels in Arizona can save you about $100/mo on your power bill, which for a single-family-residence runs about $200 in the winter and about $400 in the summer.

Those panels aren't free. They can take 10+ years to pay for themselves.

If it takes Solana 10 years to break even, that's $3,000 per year, per home served, or on par with their current power bills, and doesn't involve burning any fossils.

Re:pricing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097755)

odds the solana requires no employees and no maintenance in ten years..... zero.

Re:pricing (3, Informative)

Xyrus (755017) | about a year ago | (#45097783)

Covering your home in solar panels in Arizona can save you about $100/mo on your power bill, which for a single-family-residence runs about $200 in the winter and about $400 in the summer.

Those panels aren't free. They can take 10+ years to pay for themselves.

You're wrong. A 9 kw system (which fits on the average roof in Arizona) produces enough power to cover the average home's electricity usage for the year. The break even point is 10 years.

[citations]
http://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/state_briefs/pdf/az.pdf [eia.gov] (Information about average power usage in Arizona)
http://www.solar-estimate.org/ [solar-estimate.org] (solar system calculator for sizing systems, panel and installation costs, break-even points, etc.)

Re:pricing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097303)

So I'm not going to respond to the first post because it makes no sense. But I'll happily use the "first reply" spot, thank you very much, to actually say something.

This $2 billion plant breaks down to close to $30,000 per home serviced. Seems a wee bit exc essive, considering the average home electric bill in Arizona runs something like $200 (I researched the web for a few minutes to estimate this).

Consider that installing a home solar system would run something like $10-$20k at most in a sunny place like Arizona (considerably less w various tax incentives).

Looking like a bit of a boondoggle?

This is not how investment in technology works. Solar thermal is still moving down the cost curve and hasn't been deployed to nearly the scale of rooftop PV, but has the potential to massively undercut (at the utility scale, with thermal storage). These investments help the technology reach that point.

Re:pricing (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45097431)

Solar thermal is still moving down the cost curve

Do you have a citation for this? It was my understanding that solar-thermal has not been getting much cheaper, and, unlike solar PV, there is little room for technological improvements (it is basically just a bunch of mirrors). For this reason, most solar-thermal projects around the world have been cancelled and replaced with cheaper PV. Of course, the US government has protective tariffs in place to artificially raise the price of solar-PV. This solar-thermal plant would likely be even more of a loser on a level playing field.

Re:pricing (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45097595)

PV is only cheaper per watt over lifetime at small sizes. There is a crossover point where thermal solutions make more sense. With PV when you double the scale you get double the output. With thermal you get more than double the output when you double the scale.
PV is popular because it can be done at small scales and has been in continuous use since the 1970s. Solar thermal requires great big turbines etc, so a large capital cost, before you can get one watt out of the things so it is very unpopular with those who don't wish to invest (just about everyone in charge of budgets).

Re:pricing (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#45097553)

I wonder how this compares to the Austin solar plant, which generates a lot less energy than this one (30MW), but it consists of panels on single axis trackers. It cost $250 million, but from what I gather, it should have a long lifespan due to its relative simplicity. Of course, the ability to store energy at night is a big difference, but I wonder which plant will amortize better over time.

Re:pricing (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45097671)

Since it's a lot like a coal fired power station without all that corrosive and abrasive coal I expect it will last many decades (just like the coal fired power stations). Steam is fairly well understood even at the low pressure/large turbine end where this is going to be.
To put things in perspective with the 30MW plant, you can get 20MW generator sets built in the 1960s that use a single jet engine to drive them. Of course they go through fuel like anything and have serious running costs so I'm only making the comparison in terms of size - even 1970s solar PV would be cheaper over time than those things.

Re:pricing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097333)

You don't actually have enough information to say. Do the home systems provide electricity after the sun goes down? What is the efficiency after 10 years? What is the expected lifetime of the home systems? What is the expected lifetime of the power plant? How do the costs compare to a conventional power plant? What are the pollution costs? How does it affect the wildlife around the plant? How does that compare to a conventional plant?

You haven't scratched the surface of how this compares to anything else and w/o that you don't provide enough info to say whether it's a boondoggle or not.

Re:pricing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097347)

Yes, but keep in mind it'll be a boondoggle for several decades.

Not only is it ludicrously expensive to build but the maintenance, with square miles of sun-tracking mirrors, is going to be pretty exciting as well. Between debt-service and maintenance I have to wonder what the break-even price of electricity coming out of this holy shrine might be. The article, like all those that thrill the writer, is pleasantly short on details so as not burden the reader with too many dreary facts.

Re:pricing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097447)

at $30,000 per home serviced. and the average power bill per month being $300. That's only 8 years. 100 months and it's paid.

A pretty good deal if the plant lasts 8 years. Which i HOPE the plant will last more like 20-25... A very good deal.

Re:pricing (4, Interesting)

edjs (1043612) | about a year ago | (#45097481)

This plant cost $7100/kW. For comparison, the US Energy Information Administration estimates a new nuke plant would cost about $5300/kW (and in China, where they actually building many nukes, they're $2000/kW).

Presumably if more of these solar plants were built the cost would come down.

Re:pricing (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097521)

We've already got one fairly awesome nuclear plant -- located fairly close to these solar arrays, by the way -- but I wonder if the $5300/hW figure includes long-term storage and disposal costs.

I suppose salt tanks might, but there's also the pleasure of knowing that (a) your solar system can't go into meltdown, and (b) you can destroy people with your laser array.

Re: pricing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097709)

The time when the power is produced is an essential consideration. A kilowatt hour produced during peak demand is much more valuable than an off-peak kilowatt hour. This plant appears designed to produce power for peak demand time raising the value of the power produced. The ability to control power output over short periods of time also increases the value of the power produced.

News just in (2, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45097739)

News just in - big stuff costs a lot, big stuff that is a cutting edge experiment even more so.
Also I suggest you look at the fine print and breakdown of those numbers you've quoted - I'd say they are assuming the tenth plant or so of a type where savings can be made due to already sunk expenses and from experience. For the China number I suggest you use a real plant instead of a wild estimate. They some AP1000s almost ready to go, a couple of years behind the initial plan and a few billion over expected budget but real things instead of rubbery numbers with an implied attack at "regulation costs". I suspect a lot of those extra costs are really due to China not having so many parasitic "horse judges" doing a "heck of a job" in the businesses involved with construction. I'm not suggesting that China is not corrupt, simply that the US nuclear lobby is vastly more so.

Re:pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097593)

At least according to what I can dredge up nuclear costs about $8.1 Million per MW (the more expensive ones), this plant if my calculations are correct costs about $8 Million per Megawatt. Can someone explain how something dealing with heated salt, pipes & mirrors can cost as much as a plant requiring extensive security, safety, nuclear handling & personnel requirements? Sounds to me like this whole thing was an exercise in greasing the hands of some well connected political friends.

Re:pricing (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45097639)

Solar home for 20K per house? Closer to 30K, and only if your house happens to be conveniently situated.

You can get in for $5000, if all you want to heat is the pool or maybe some hot water.

Most of the figures you see for solar home additions are for auxiliary heat (usually for hot water), they
make no attempt to cover a house's whole electrical load. With air conditioning, that load can be
pretty high, and you never get off the grid.

There are a couple articles on this recently on AZ Central.
http://www.azcentral.com/business/consumer/articles/20130726arizona-solar-costs-high.html [azcentral.com]
and also
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2012-12-27/news/solar-eclipsed-why-the-sun-won-t-power-phoenix-despite-an-industry-boom/ [phoenixnewtimes.com]

This plant has at least an chance of lasting long enough to pay for itself, which, unfortunately is not
always the case with with roof top solar. The rude awakening in that industry is that the equipment
often doesn't last to the payout period.

Economies of scale, and the probability actually seeing maintenance make large installations more
efficient than rooftop solar.

I for one welcome (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097155)

our solar overlords.

Re:I for one welcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097363)

I'd like to remind them that as a trusted Slashdot personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their energy storage caves.

Confused (0)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45097169)

"Because it can store electricity" Someone doesn't understand how it works...

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097231)

"Because it can store electricity"
Someone doesn't understand how it works...

I only read the title of the article and already can tell that the someone is you.

Re:Confused (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45097351)

TFA states "Being able to store the power allows the plant to continue distributing energy". Summary states "Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power". I know how this works, but the guy writing the summary doesn't know how to paraphrase correctly. Gimme my mod points back!

Re:Confused (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#45097339)

The summary also talks about first with storage ?

There are lots of those around:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_thermal_power_stations [wikipedia.org]

Wasn't it in one of the plants in the Andalucia region of Spain the first that provides electricity for 24 hours a day in 2011 ?

Re:Confused (0)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#45097621)

Isn't Spain one of the countries that's on the verge of bankruptcy, and is accepting bailouts from the IMF?

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57416089/spain-lurching-further-toward-bankruptcy/

Re:Confused (0)

GiganticLyingMouth (1691940) | about a year ago | (#45097803)

What does that have to do with a solar plant? Are you implying that Spain is on the verge of bankruptcy on account of this solar plant? Your comment is tangential at best and nonsensical at worst.

Re:Confused (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#45097853)

Spain spent billions on green subsidies, and is on the verge of bankruptcy. As it turns out, Europe has now spent billions on Spain's green subsidies, and Spain's green economy is going bankrupt. Those billions would be kind of useful now, wouldn't they?

Re:Confused (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#45097861)

Maybe PRI will be acceptable?

http://pri.org/stories/2013-07-05/spains-ill-wind-government-goes-back-time-gut-renewable-energy-subsidies

Re:Confused (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45097895)

Maybe you should look into who the IMF represents.

And the "gutting" of renewable energy had to do entirely with future projects. The existing facilities are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Why does every story that has the word "solar" in it bring out the trolls?

Re:Confused (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45097883)

Isn't Spain one of the countries that's on the verge

You couldn't find an article newer than April of 2012 to support your off-topic troll?

Or maybe you just don't understand what "verge of" means.

6 hours? (-1, Troll)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#45097171)

Nighttime lasts longer than that.

Re:6 hours? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#45097177)

You are right. We should bulldozer it at once!

Re:6 hours? (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#45097271)

I'm not saying it's useless, but I am curious if there's some fundamental limitation that's caused this. If you want base load power, you'd probably want more like 12 hours of storage and it seems strange they wouldn't go for that, since they're half way there. If you're only going for intermittent power, this system is more expensive to build and operate than a photovoltaic system would be, but it makes sense if you add energy storage to the picture.

Re:6 hours? (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097325)

In Arizona, we use most of our power during the day, cooling homes.

Re:6 hours? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#45097349)

Most of us work during the day, so we only need to really cool our homes in the evening (unless we have pets).

Re:6 hours? (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097415)

Few people here turn their cooling systems OFF during the day. Also, the hottest days of the year here are in the summer, where a lot of families have kids at home. YES, there's absolutely a spike in electricity around 4pm (when it's still hot and people come home), but businesses (which a lot of us go to during the day) have air conditioners too.

Re:6 hours? (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a year ago | (#45097917)

Yes, but during our horrible, soul-killing abominable summers (6 months out of the year) AC usage 24/7 is pretty well required. How many nights a year does the overnight low not dip below 100? (I moved to phoenix from oregon, i might be .. exaggerating, but shit summers be hot here.)

Re:6 hours? (5, Informative)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45097401)

Economics. You don't need nearly as much power between midnight and 6 (7? 8?), during which time the nukes and coal, which can't be throttled too much, will oblige. Designing heat storage capacity for around-the-clock is wasting money, at least in the current grid configuration and state of the tech.

Re:6 hours? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#45097641)

If you want base load power, you'd probably want more like 12 hours of storage and it seems strange they wouldn't go for that, since they're half way there.

You can trade peak power for more hours of lesser power generation, but it's not a balanced 1:1 trade off.
For every extra hour of heat retention, you lose a lot of your power generation.
And it's also more expensive to operate that type of plant.

Re:6 hours? (4, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#45097775)

Base load is the easy stuff in power generation. The peaks are vastly greater than the minimum demand at night.

this system is more expensive to build and operate than a photovoltaic system would be

Not at large scales. PV does not scale well since if you double the size you only double the output. With thermal solutions of all types you can get a lot more heat out of stuff if you have a lot of hot stuff, so doubling the size gives you more than double the output due to an increase in the amount of energy you can get out. For example, if you don't have much steam you can only have a high pressure turbine but if you have a lot you can use the leftover steam that comes out of the first turbine and feed it into another with a different blade pattern to extract more energy and so on.
With thermal it has to be big so you have an enormous capital cost, but if it's big enough PV just will not match it. A 500MW PV array would cost a vast amount more than a 500MW thermal solution.

Re:6 hours? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45097913)

I'm not saying it's useless, but I am curious if there's some fundamental limitation that's caused this. If you want base load power, you'd probably want more like 12 hours of storage and it seems strange they wouldn't go for that, since they're half way there. If you're only going for intermittent power, this system is more expensive to build and operate than a photovoltaic system would be, but it makes sense if you add energy storage to the picture.

If you can provide renewable energy for 6 hours of every night powered by nothing more than the sun that's hitting the earth anyway, I'd say that puts you way ahead of the game. And it means that much less fossil fuel and all the external costs that brings.

Re:6 hours? (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about a year ago | (#45097225)

But the demand is typically down significantly 6 hours after sundown.

Re:6 hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097235)

Not if you build a data center next door.

Re:6 hours? (3, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#45097249)

Nighttime lasts longer than that.

RTFA - "These six hours will satisfy Arizona's peak electricity demands during the summer evenings and early night time hours . . "

Someone do the math. $2 bil over 30 years for 70k homes.

Re:6 hours? (2)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#45097295)

I already did. It's $0.11 per kWh with no operating costs or interest added in. Or it's about $1000 per home per year (again no operating costs or interest payments).

Re:6 hours? (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097317)

And since they're selling the power to APS at 14c/kWh, it seems like a good plan...

Re:6 hours? (4, Insightful)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#45097425)

Nighttime lasts longer than that.

Or more likely, they did some demand modeling and found some value that made the economic sense?

Electricity demand follows a predictable pattern, with the lowest demand between 10pm and 7am. If surplus power (to storage) were to transition from positive to negative in the early evening, then 6 hours of stored capacity might work out pretty well.

Re:6 hours? (4, Informative)

Frobnicator (565869) | about a year ago | (#45097435)

Yes, night is longer than the 6 hours mentioned in the story summary. But the story summary is a bit misleading.

That is six hours running at full capacity and also running entirely from the salt tanks. Neither of those conditions are likely to be true overnight.

Solar plants continue operating at reduced power during cloud cover and at night time. Even at times of reduced sunlight or at night there is still energy available. It does not need to run entirely from the salt tanks.

Secondly, nighttime is not peak usage hours.

The Solana salt tanks are about 740 cubic meters so they could probably store around 16TJ of energy. (For physics impaired, 1 joule per second == 1 watt.) That is a lot of power. Since it will mostly be relying on that stored energy at night and not running at full capacity, that stored energy could reasonably last through the night and on through a good portion of the following day.

FP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097179)

Frist post

Our sun generates the solar power (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | about a year ago | (#45097193)

The plant doesn't generate solar power, the plant generates electricity.

Re:Our sun generates the solar power (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#45097269)

The plant doesn't generate solar power, the plant generates electricity.

Are you sure? TFS said it was a first. If the LHC can make a contain a black hole, then a small star should be doable. How else are you going to generate solar power at night. ;-)

What if they don't have enough sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097201)

Won't that prove that solar power is ineffective? It's Arizona, it can't be that sunny all the time.

And at night? What will they do when the sun is down?

Re:What if they don't have enough sun? (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45097331)

Solar power is currently cheaper than wind energy.

Wind energy is currently cheaper than oil and competitive with non-subsidized coal and gas.

Any questions?

The invisible hand already weighed in, and resistance is futile.

Re:What if they don't have enough sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097599)

Any questions?

Yes. How do you propose to deal with the base load when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow? What about the peak load during periods of unfavorable weather?

Re:What if they don't have enough sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097801)

You don't even have to RTFA to find the answer to your question.

Just the summary, which said:

"A first: a thermal energy storage system at the plant can provide electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Because it can store electricity, the plant can continue to provide power during the night and inclement weather."

Good day.

Re:What if they don't have enough sun? (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#45097637)

I'm not normally one of those people, but I think this needs a citation. And not a Cessna, or a Chevrolet.

Re:What if they don't have enough sun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097411)

They should build one in Philadelphia. I heard that it's always sunny there.

14c/kWh (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097215)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solana_Generating_Station [wikipedia.org]

Interesting that the wholesale price of this electricity is 14c/kWh. The overnight residential rate in Phoenix is about 7c. I guess they're hoping to resell a lot of this to businesses during the day, or they're just going to eat the price difference (over nuclear, gas and coal) to meet the 15% renewable energy mandate for 2025.

Re:14c/kWh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097263)

Or maybe it will be 14c/kWh for it's entire life. Something that is unknown with other forms of fuel.

I am surprised they didn't throw in some SouthEast and SouthWest facing solar panels to meet some early morning and late evening power needs.

But, cool project. I've been to Kramer Junction and have always wondered why more of these types of plants don't get built in the Southwest US and Mexico.

Re:14c/kWh (1)

matthewd (59896) | about a year ago | (#45097353)

They can sell it to California! I don't think they are building a lot of power plants here, and we'll definitely need some clean environmentally friendly energy to power the high speed train they are going to build. Besides PG&E and SCE get away with charging >.30/kWh to customers, so there is plenty of potential for profit there even at a wholesale cost of .14/kWh.

If you doubt they would do this, consider that California once imported (and may still be importing) clean hydroelectric power from Canada (B.C. IIRC) which in turn proceeded to burn coal to meet local power requirements.

Re:14c/kWh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097369)

That's because we subsidize the pollution costs of all those other plants.

Re:14c/kWh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097533)

14c/kwh, btw, is the same or higher than retail residential rates in many parts of the country.

the only ones making money off this plant is the company that built it.

Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097247)

Will somebody tell me if I should get a woody because it's oh-so-wonderful solar power, or should I get angry that evil humans are spoiling the desert?

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45097315)

actually, this provides shade. If you'd ever lived in the desert, you'd get why that's good.

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (4, Interesting)

matthewd (59896) | about a year ago | (#45097375)

I did the calculations and it is around 1200 square feet per household that this project is powering. I'm not sure this type of land use could really scale.

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45097453)

As an Arizonan, I assure you, we have no use for any of the land between Phoenix and Yuma sans that which the Palo Verde nuclear plant sits on -- and there's a lot of it.

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#45097905)

Someone's going to start bitching about gila monsters catching cold because they don't have enough sunshine at ground level to bask in.

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (2)

Salgat (1098063) | about a year ago | (#45097511)

That's really small, in fact it's less than the average size of a home. Considering you have a lot of otherwise unusable desert out west, this sounds like a great use of land.

Re:Three square miles of pristine desert? Bad huma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097567)

You know we have lots of desert sitting out there doing nothing right? A whole lot of it. Miles and miles and miles of sand and rock.
More than enough to power the entire country on not even half of it....

that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquarium (1, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45097301)

Well, that's all well and good for you people in areas that don't have 99.8 percent green energy like we in Seattle do.

Meanwhile, I just shelled out $150 to buy one unit of the Seattle Aquarium solar panel array, which will reduce my annual already green electric bill by about $46 until around 2035.

You have fun with your 1 or 2 percent gains - we're cooking with green energy and leaving you in the DUST!

(caveat - we pump out more solar, biofilm, biofuel, wind, and energy patents every year than the rest of you do, just at the UW itself here in Seattle)

Re:that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097405)

bit of an exaggeration, but that's ok. We're still way ahead of the curve even if 99.8% isn't true.

http://www.seattle.gov/light/fuelmix/

Re:that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquar (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45097473)

Wrong. I buy Green Up and Green Power, which means my bill is normally $12 more a month, which pays for 99.8 percent green power.

Adapt or die.

Re:that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquar (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45097517)

It must be great to live close enough to rivers to get 89% of your electricity from hydro.

For the rest of the world, electricity generation is still a problem.

Re:that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquar (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | about a year ago | (#45097537)

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." - Albert Einstein.

Don't get caught up so much on thinking the people of one particular area are worth more than the people of another area. That's what wars are made of.

Re:that's nice - just bought part of Seattle Aquar (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#45097675)

According to this [seattle.gov] it is a bit lower than that at about 94.2%. It is also a bit skewed by the fact that Seattle is close to mountain ranges with lots of valleys that can produce hydroelectric power. If you remove the hydroelectric, 89.8% the percentage drops to 4.4%.

Not everyone lives in an area that has plentiful hydroelectric generation. It is like Arizona touting how much solar based electricity they are generating and slagging Seattle for falling behind.

Meanwhile, I just shelled out $150 to buy one unit of the Seattle Aquarium solar panel array, which will reduce my annual already green electric bill by about $46 until around 2035.

That is only because you are getting credited for $1.15/KWh [slashdot.org] when electricity sells locally for $0,0672. You are being paid over 17 times the going rate. Making money due to tax incentives really skews the picture.
By the way according to Seattle Power [seattle.gov] the credits amount to "an estimated annual credit of almost $29 per solar unit"
I really don't think comparing a highly subsidizes small , 49 kW, project with al large commercial project is very valid at all.

Thats a shitload of money (0, Troll)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#45097355)

for not that many megawatts. Not to mention using up a ton of land.

  Is there any solar power that is not a blight on the land? Nothing quite like enhancing the scenery with 20 huge panels at roadside.

Re:Thats a shitload of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097445)

Nothing quite like enhancing the scenery with 20 huge panels at roadside.

Flat and mostly featureless desert land where nothing grows is hardly "blighted"
by installing a solar power generation array.

Perhaps you would prefer a line of Cadillacs buried nose first in the sand ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Ranch

Re:Thats a shitload of money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097487)

for not that many megawatts. Not to mention using up a ton of land.

  Is there any solar power that is not a blight on the land? Nothing quite like enhancing the scenery with 20 huge panels at roadside.

you haven't seen the blight on the land that is a open cut coal mine !

Re:Thats a shitload of money (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097501)

Yea solar plants are soooo ugly. Not like coal power plants which are scenic wonders.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_Junction_Trip_92007_098.JPG

Re:Thats a shitload of money (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | about a year ago | (#45097509)

wait, really? So you consider coal mines and conventional power plants to be what, tourist attractions?

Re:Thats a shitload of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097741)

Not to mention the amount of water that will be needed to clean the mirrors after dust storms roll through the plant periodically.

$2 billion for 280 MW is a huge rip-off. A 500 MW combined cycle natural gas plant can be built for between $500 million and $1 billion and will use FAR less water if an air-cooled condenser is used. It can be built on 10-20 acres of land too. I have been designing and building these my entire career and they are the cleanest most economical and practical power plant designs available.

Re:Thats a shitload of money (1)

kwerle (39371) | about a year ago | (#45097777)

Is there any solar power that is not a blight on the land?

There are a whole lot of roofs and parking lots that will be covered without mucking up more clear land.

Gattaca Sunset (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097373)

That is all.

Do The Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45097817)

so that's $28,571 spent per home supplied with power, sounds great I think I'll order 20

600 Eco executives, huh? (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#45097833)

Anyone else out there thinking this?

Wait, what?! (4, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about a year ago | (#45097863)

China 2007:
Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant
$3.3 Billion for 2,120 MW
$1.56 Million/MW

US 2013:
Solana Solar Power Plant
$2 Billion for 280 MW
$7.1 Million/MW

And we wonder why we keep having to borrow money from them?!

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