Biggest solar farm eclipsed


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Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NR wikimediaSolar was supposed to be the key “renewable energy” powering California away from dirty old fossil fuels and into the Radiant Future. A 2011 law Gov. Jerry Brown signed mandated 33 percent renewable energy by 2020, now just a little over five years way. He actually said when signing the law, “I didn’t get my name, Gov. Moonbeam, for nothing. I earned it!”

It’s not turning out that way.

The latest:

“LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest solar power plant of its type in the world – once promoted as a turning point in green energy – isn’t producing as much energy as planned.

One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn’t shining as much as expected.

Sprawling across roughly 5 square miles of federal desert near the California-Nevada border, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February, with operators saying it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 homes.

So far, however, the plant is producing about half of its expected annual output for 2014, according to calculations by the California Energy Commission.

It had been projected to produce its full capacity for 8 hours a day, on average.

The commission cited reasons for the low generation: “Factors such as clouds, jet contrails and weather have had a greater impact on the plant than the owners anticipated.”

That reminded me how the Soviet Union, during its 74 years of existence, every year suffered crop failures for which it blamed “bad weather.” Yet its farms in pre-socialist times, especially the rich earth of Ukraine, had been “the breadbasket of Europe.”

As Wayne Lusvardi has reported on our site, the failure of renewables to generate up to expectations has forced the state to rely on out-of-state fossil fuel power (natural gas and coal) and Warren Buffett’s hydropower.

Shocking costs

All of that, plus a dysfunctional distribution left over from the 2000 Electricity Crisis, means shockingly record high costs for ratepayers. The San Diego Reader reported:

California residential electricity rates are the highest in the nation — by far. A major reason is that the California Public Utilities Commission, the so-called regulator, schmoozes Wall Street, promising to keep the profits of the state’s publicly held utilities — Sempra Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison — higher than utility profits elsewhere. Those profits come out of ratepayers’ pockets.

So Californians have the worst of both capitalism and socialism: crony capitalist (not free market) price structures and socialist generation mandates.

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  1. Maybe the reason the sun isn’t shining as much is due to the nanoparticles of aluminum and barium sprayed daily obscuring the sun, in the name of geoengineering, weather modification.
    Shasta County residents are on top of this.

    • Could it actually be that the output of the Sun is down, which might explain the lack of AGW for the last 14+ years?
      Ivanpah based its business model on Solar output when things were heating up (while we were worried about the ‘coming Ice Age’ in the 70’s & 80’s), and now that the Sun has entered one of its Minimum Periods, its just not as bright and that ‘coming Ice Age’ may be nearer than was thought.

  2. It will never work as a wholesale business it is to expensive to build and transmit the electricity. It will work however on a retail basis. It not hard to put enough solar panels on your roof to power your house. If you add batteries and an inverter you can power it day and night. Most electronics do not run on ac they run on DC. The first thing the power cord on your computer hits is a converter that cuts it down to 12 volts dc. If you have your electronics converted to dc you save all kinds of power

    • John, you are right on. All lighting can be converted to run directly on DC. More and more appliances convert to DC right off of the line cord. Another major factor in long transmission lines is the amount of loss. It would be interesting to know just how much electricity one must pay for just to get one Kilowatt Hour delivered to ones house. Local generation makes sense.

    • Fred Campbell says

      “Most electronics do not run on ac they run on dc”. As a generalization, this one is “not worth a dam”.
      Household appliances (refrigerators, vacuums, microwaves, light fixtures, etc. work on 115VAC, period.
      Yes, most “electronics” internally process the AC into various DC voltages (computers generally use 12VDC and 5VDC).
      But. if one wants to validate the truth re. DC electricity, go to an RV supplies store and compute the cost of replacing your household appliances with DC compatible units.
      So, the alternative is to install an “off-grid” system for your house. Budget $50 k for the installation. Amortize that, add maintenance costs (batteries are expensive and short-lived) and you will be far more out-of pocket then operating on the grid.
      P.S.: “Transmitting the energy” is a relative minor factor in the cost of electricity, and as these systems are (generally) already in place and amortized.
      Yes, solar and wind power are government fiascos, never to pay for themselves or compete with coal, natural gas, hydro and atomic energies. But divorcing oneself from the grid is not the answer either.
      P.S,: And, yes, I have a grid-tie system, paid for in large part by other rate-payers (and tax payers) so PG&E can be “politically correct”.

  3. What about the Desert Tortoise, and the Kit Fox………… Jerry Brown as AG canceled solar Power Plants on I-5 between Los Banos and Coalinga…. Because of the Kit Fox….. Now they will go ahead with a Solar Plant in the habitat of the Desert Tortoise… I not against energy, I’m just pointing out hypocritical Jerry Brown is………………

  4. J.Brown thinks he can talk folksy as the liar in the white house does. You really can’t believe Jerry B. because he loves to run after the Washington D.C sort of clap trap that is built on lies and big government. Brown has also run lots of businesses out of the state-and of course he’ll tax and tax we who are left to cover his ass.

  5. Let’s ditch the “crony capitalism” meme, and change it to what it really is:
    Crony Corporatism!
    Or, is that so close to the Italian Fascism (Mussolini’s State Corporatism) that it is, that it would offend?
    Too ……. Bad.

  6. Wow, did anybody see this coming? I actually think cows are causing this. About as good of an excuse as any. Jet contrails, REALLY?

  7. I picked up on that too, Mickey. Jet Contrails??? They would have to be on the arrival and departure paths for LAX, Orange County, Las Vegas, and Burbank airports and even then would not generate so many contrails as to reduce solar energy reaching the collectors. Must be bucking for a job in Obumble’s White House.

  8. Gotta Gedada Displace says

    He didn’t get “Gov $#%@HOLE” for nothing, either, HE earned THAT too!

  9. I’ve said it all alone–TRASH SOLAR!!!

  10. Roger Tranfaglia says

    Soo…shall we blame the libertarians and the Tea Party? They MUST be guilty! Just look at thier philosophy………

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