Massive. We want more of these solar plants. Fill the whole dessert please.
Yeah, the WSJ had an article on this plant today. It's frying a lot of birds, apparently. It costs four times what a natural gas plant wouid have cost, but at least it produces less power. The power companies already have long term contracts but although they are public utilities, they refused to reveal the contract prices, except to note that costs would be passed on to customers. Estimates are that customers will pay a little more than twice what they'd pay for the same power from other sources.
Oh, yeah, it takes about 10 times the desert area of a natural has plant, too. I dunno what the ecology of that bit of desert is like, but I'm pretty sure that covering it with mirrors isn't going to be good for it.
Clean power is all well and good. But we should be aware of the costs, fiscal and otherwise.
I am not sure if this idea is actually a good idea. It is the traditional thinking of massive plants... My roof is a much better place, because the enviroment is already altered and also keeps my house cooler.
Where is works widely distributed small solar is much better than one large plant. You get benefit from somebody else getting Sun when you have a rainy day. A bit like SC stations.
"it takes about 10 times the desert area of a natural gas plant"
Sure, but how about mining for natural gas? And the costs to keep mining it?
This is built, and the fuel is basically free. Now let's compare maintenance costs of this plant vs. mining, distribution, and maintenance of regular natural gas/ coal/ nuclear plants.
Dramsey is correct about needing to always look at actual costs and yes, it is also correct to view all the side effects of fracking etc.
We don't have the perfect source yet. So a good mix of what we can have is what we should pursue.
@holiday: we've been building solar plants for decades, so presumably the long term costs are well known. And yet customers will still be paying twice as much for power, so I must assume that the maintenance costs are significant.
In general I think centralized power is most efficient, but for solar, I'm beginning to think distributed might well be better. Of course even today it's a significant up-front cost to a home, but in many areas (not Nevada, sadly), the payback is relatively soon.
Every solar plant must have 100% backup, even more costly than normal conventional plant, ready to "pick up the slack" for load-following and sunset. The battery-buffer idea is not much help, as the energy requirements are so massive, and rather complex to site and manage. The thing is: not even a little dirty power can be tolerated by many modern industries, much less drop-outs and brown-outs. This whole initiative is retro-grade, making power less compact and reliable with little attention to the Unintended Consequences, which are major. And the Invisible Hand ensures that the Real Costs WILL be paid.
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