Continuing Solar Fail

I have written a number of times about Ivanpah, the massive solar plant in California.  The plant was funded with a $1.6 billion taxpayer loan, which the company that owns it has since petitioned to be turned in part into a complete giveaway.  The plant is a like a giant bird microwave oven, and its owners would owe literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fines if they were fined for bird kills at the same rate as a company like Exxon is.

Now, apparently the plant is in danger of being cut off by PG&E, who contracted to buy its power, because it is substantially under-producing its commitments.  The other day it got a temporary reprieve.  But Anthony Watt notices from recent filings:

Nameplate capacity = 370 MW.
Expected average energy generation per year = 1,000,000 MWh.
This means average power output is 114 MW (about 1/10th of a new nuclear plant).
Capacity factor is 31%.
Cost = US $2.2 billion = $19/Watt average power delivered.

This is around 3x the cost of some recent nuclear power plant builds that most environmentalists have accused of being prohibitively expensive.....

The power plant area that had to be bulldozed over is 20x larger than a nuclear reactor of equivalent average (real) capacity.


  1. ErikTheRed:

    All that public money on both sides and we can't find out how much it's falling short. Lovely.

  2. STW:

    But the theory it works in is so beautiful and elegant. They must not have had the right people in charge.

  3. frankania:

    Solar power is good. I have 2 systems that should last me 20 more years. The problem is letting govt. handle it, or even support it with money (other people;s money!). Cronyism gone wild!

  4. Thane_Eichenauer:

    It does work. Well enough for people that care not about paying for it.

  5. Craig:

    I visited this site last year. It should be noted that this is a concentrating solar plant. Mirrors that move with the sun focus sunlight on three towers, in which water boils like at a regular thermal power plant. The site is sensitive to wind (it moves the mirrors and kicks up dust), breakdown of the mirror moving mechanism, and clouds (even more so than a PV solar plant). PV seems to be a better option for solar power.

  6. Craig:

    It also seems that the bird problem has been resolved, for the most part. They broadcast sounds from the towers to keep birds away.