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Thread: Solar Power Plants to Rise on U.S. Land

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    Solar Power Plants to Rise on U.S. Land

    www.nytimes.com



    Solar Power Plants to Rise on U.S. Land

    By FELICITY BARRINGER

    Published: October 5, 2010

    SAN FRANCISCO — Proposals for the first large solar power plants ever built on federal lands won final approval on Tuesday from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reflecting the Obama administration’s resolve to promote renewable energy in the face of Congressional inaction.

    Both plants are to rise in the California desert under a fast-track program that dovetails with the state’s own aggressive effort to push development of solar, wind and geothermal power. The far larger one, a 709-megawatt project proposed by Tessera Solar on 6,360 acres in the Imperial Valley, will use “Suncatchers” — reflectors in the shape of radar dishes — to concentrate solar energy and activate a four-cylinder engine to generate electricity.

    A 45-megawatt system proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions and featuring arrays of up to 40,500 solar panels will be built on 422 acres of the Lucerne Valley. When complete, the two projects could generate enough energy to power as many as 566,000 homes.

    Mr. Salazar is expected to sign off on perhaps five more projects this year; the combined long-term output of all the plants would be four times that of the first two.

    “It’s our expectation we will see thousands of megawatts of solar energy sprouting on public lands,” he told reporters.

    The announcement, which came shortly after the White House unveiled plans to install the latest generation of solar panels on the roof of its living quarters, reflects a need to enable solar manufacturers to break ground by the end of 2010 so they can share in soon-to-expire grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy.

    Federal stimulus grants and federal loan guarantees could underwrite as much as hundreds of millions of dollars or more of the $2.1 billion Imperial Valley plant, said Janette Coates, a Tessera spokeswoman.

    The decision also follows a long series of setbacks for climate and energy legislation in Congress. After passage of a House bill last year, efforts to advance a major emissions-reducing bill through the Senate collapsed over the summer for lack of votes linked to fears of a voter backlash.

    In addition to the two plants approved Tuesday, projects that are poised to gain approval by the end of the year include BrightSource Energy’s proposed 370-megawatt Ivanpah facility, Tessera’s 850-megawatt Calico project, NextEra’s 250-megawatt Genesis Solar Energy Plant and Solar Millennium’s 1,000-megawatt Blythe project.

    The next batch of approvals, Secretary Salazar said, “is something that is not months away.”

    But even with federal approval, a major hurdle remains for most of the projects: finding excess capacity on transmission lines in the desert, most of which are fully booked or nearly so. At the moment, capacity exists for about 345 megawatts of the 754 megawatts that would eventually be generated by the two newly approved projects.

    The rest would require a new line, like San Diego Gas & Electric’s 123-mile proposed Sunrise Powerlink, which has been approved but faces challenges in federal and state courts.

    Mr. Salazar emphasized that the Lucerne Valley and Imperial Valley projects had the support of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife and the Wilderness Society.

    Both projects were altered to meet environmental objections: they have a smaller footprint than was originally planned and now include greater commitments to mitigate the impact on species like the endangered desert tortoise. Imperial uses minimal water, a scarce resource in the desert. Still, local desert-protection groups remain opposed, and representatives of large environmental groups expressed support in carefully parsed statements.

    “These projects were not selected by us,” said Johanna Wald, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are, as it were, the cards that we were dealt. So we are doing the best that we can by working with the companies, working with the agencies,” to “make them as good as they can be.”

    Jim Lyons, who works with renewable energy projects for Defenders of Wildlife, said he supported the Lucerne Valley project. But he said he had some concerns about the impact of the sprawling Imperial Valley solar-reflector project on the landscape, though it has been scaled back from the original 900-megawatt proposal.

    “It is smaller, it will go forward in two phases — that certainly is an improvement,” Mr. Lyons said. He said that to achieve such concessions, conservation groups had lodged a formal protest with the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Interior Department.

    “It is important for the department to take the lessons learned from these fast-track projects and use that to develop some guidelines,” he added.

    The power from the Imperial Valley plant will fulfill its contract for renewable energy made with the San Diego Gas & Electric Company. The power from the Lucerne Valley photovoltaic array is destined for Southern California Edison.

    California utilities are currently required to meet a state mandate that they generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

    The announcement of the planned solar panels on the roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which would be used to heat water and generate a small amount of electricity, came just a few weeks after the White House rebuffed an environmental organizer who tried to present the White House with a panel from an array installed by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s. (Ronald Reagan’s administration removed those panels in 1986.)

    “This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

    The Interior Department’s action was delayed by the need for multiple approvals from agencies ranging from the Secret Service to the General Services Administration, officials said.


    John M. Broder and Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.


    A version of this article appeared in print on October 6, 2010, on page A16 of the New York edition.

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    Everyone loves these big renewable projects. My own opinion is these giant wind and solar parks are going to be a natural dissaster of epic proportions down the line. The cheapest renewable energy source hydro electric has done a huge amount of damage to the landscape and I have no doubt these giant projects are goind to destroy the desert and create all kinds of unintended consequences to the environment.

    We allready have rooftops and private property that are perfectly suited to generating solar and wind in small none intrusive footprints that have the added benifit of freeing private property owners from the burden of public utility and the government. Once we have better battery technology these big projects will not only be expensive and obsolete, they pose a significant risk to the environment.
    Last edited by Winstonbiggs; 10-06-2010 at 10:59 AM.

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    Federal stimulus grants and federal loan guarantees could underwrite as much as hundreds of millions of dollars or more of the $2.1 billion Imperial Valley plant, said Janette Coates, a Tessera spokeswoman
    Translation: The project is economicaly not viable, and requires massive taxpayer spending to happen.

    Next: The project is unprofitable, and requires regular influx of taxpayer funding to continue operation.

    Renewable/Less Polluting Energy is good, and I can support it. But everyone should understand that the electric bill will not be the only place you pay for your power in such a future. Your taxes will pay for it as well.

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    since we are talking about it


    from Popular Science

    http://www.popsci.com/technology/art...thin-ten-years

    Of all places, the U.S. military has proven one of the fiercest proponents of renewable energy, and for totally practical reasons -- most importantly cost and safety. Now, military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. One company of Marines, saddled with tons of solar power tech, is kickstarting this revolution.

    The military is not a new player on the renewable energy scene; the Navy has previously pledged to have a "Green Strike Group" by 2012, was the biggest purchaser of electric cars in the country, and is working on "zero-footprint" camps. These aren't ideological choices--renewable energy and many of its applications are simply better than fossil fuels in many ways.

    Says Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy: "Fossil fuel is the number-one thing we import to Afghanistan, and guarding that fuel is keeping the troops from doing what they were sent there to do, to fight or engage local people." The convoys that deliver fossil fuel are frequent targets of insurgent attack, which can impair both the delivery system and the lives of civilians and soldiers--a study found that roughly one civilian or soldier is killed for every 24 fuel convoys sent. And given that fuel often makes up, 30 to 80 percent of every convoy's load, according to the New York Times, that's a lot of danger.
    The reason renewable sources have been slow to take hold is largely for their high cost of production--a certain amount of solar energy is far more expensive to produce than the same amount of energy from fossil fuels. But given the astronomically high prices of transport for fossil fuels, solar energy, for one, doesn't seem so pricey. Solar energy may be more expensive to produce, but carting around solar panels is far less dangerous and expensive than repeatedly shipping fossil fuels around the world.

    The 150 Marines of Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, which set off from California last week, are the first to bring renewable energy tech to a battle zone. That tech includes portable solar panels, solar chargers, and solar tents. The military clearly hopes this venture will serve as a model for the future--Mabus said that he's pushing for the military to rely on 50 percent renewable energy by 2020. And with the military pushing so hard for new innovations in the field, the results will eventually drift down to us civilians. Hopefully these efforts can kickstart renewable energy--if it's good enough for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, it's surely good enough for your office.
    JMO solar is alot more viable than wind. they keep improving the technology. 10 years from now there will be solar spraypaint and solar curtains for your windows. Everytime I go out side and get a wicked sunburn the massive energy of the sun becomes apparent. there is even a new type of solar panel that takes the energy from the light AND the heat which is rare (it's usually just the light).

    Wind is a little sketchier... the rotors kill birds, and make weird strobe noises. too much wind, not enough wind, i'm a little more skeptical of wind. Solar seems money tho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    since we are talking about it



    JMO solar is alot more viable than wind. they keep improving the technology. 10 years from now there will be solar spraypaint and solar curtains for your windows. Everytime I go out side and get a wicked sunburn the massive energy of the sun becomes apparent. there is even a new type of solar panel that takes the energy from the light AND the heat which is rare (it's usually just the light).

    Wind is a little sketchier... the rotors kill birds, and make weird strobe noises. too much wind, not enough wind, i'm a little more skeptical of wind. Solar seems money tho.
    See, this I agree with. The technology to make this option viable is very likely coming down the pipe.

    But it's not here yet. Hence why the project needs so much support from the Feds.

    In time, we can hope, the tech. will make solar or other options far more competative/viable.

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    Where do we build them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    But it's not here yet. Hence why the project needs so much support from the Feds.
    the feds give huge subsidies to fossil fuel extractors as well... doesn't make it right but not much happens without federal support.

    it should also be noted China is whupping our rears in the alt-energy contest... and whether you are republican, democrat or other, we can't fall behind China.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    See, this I agree with. The technology to make this option viable is very likely coming down the pipe.

    But it's not here yet. Hence why the project needs so much support from the Feds.

    In time, we can hope, the tech. will make solar or other options far more competative/viable.
    Not only is it not economically viable as you point out it requires subsidy, by subsidizing certain technologies the government may be making bad chooses which will make it easier for bad technology to enter markets and may exclude better technologies from entering because they are facing subsidized competition.

    Big government is much more likely to subsidize big scale projects which may be completely the wrong way to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    by subsidizing certain technologies the government may be making bad chooses
    there's a bunch of bad choices... it's a bad choice to have a 1 dollar gallon of gas be 400$ by the time it gets through a 6000 mile supply line and reaches the front line. or to have infantry guarding the fuel when it gets there.

    Im very excited when the military says they want portable solar power, cause that means it will happen... probably within a decade. there's no congress or president to worry about political fallout... the generals just make stuff happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    the feds give huge subsidies to fossil fuel extractors as well... doesn't make it right but not much happens without federal support.

    it should also be noted China is whupping our rears in the alt-energy contest... and whether you are republican, democrat or other, we can't fall behind China.
    Not quite true.

    Generally, Oil/Gas/Coal Entities get Tax Breaks. Or access to "public" Govt. land at reduced rates.

    They do not, generally, get actual direct-funding simply in order to exist.

    And I agree, we should effort maintaining a World LEader role in technology. A job that (IMO) becomes much harder when we move almost all manufacturing offshore, but thats another topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bitonti View Post
    the feds give huge subsidies to fossil fuel extractors as well... doesn't make it right but not much happens without federal support.

    it should also be noted China is whupping our rears in the alt-energy contest... and whether you are republican, democrat or other, we can't fall behind China.
    What does whupping our rears in alt-energy really mean. We whupped the entire worlds butt when it came to land line phones and it means almost nothing today since the technology no longer matters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    Everyone loves these big renewable projects. My own opinion is these giant wind and solar parks are going to be a natural dissaster of epic proportions down the line. The cheapest renewable energy source hydro electric has done a huge amount of damage to the landscape and I have no doubt these giant projects are goind to destroy the desert and create all kinds of unintended consequences to the environment.

    We allready have rooftops and private property that are perfectly suited to generating solar and wind in small none intrusive footprints that have the added benifit of freeing private property owners from the burden of public utility and the government. Once we have better battery technology these big projects will not only be expensive and obsolete, they pose a significant risk to the environment.
    agreed- there are little things that can be done (solar strips on cars to run air conditioning, heating, etc....solar panels on the roofs of busses, trains, l-train/subways, other public transportation, solar strips on the sided of buildings, hotels, etc) which would go a long way...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Come Back to NY View Post
    agreed- there are little things that can be done (solar strips on cars to run air conditioning, heating, etc....solar panels on the roofs of busses, trains, l-train/subways, other public transportation, solar strips on the sided of buildings, hotels, etc) which would go a long way...
    Where it makes sense to me for the government to get involved is spending money on first rate transmission lines. The national grid is a leeky mess.

    If we have a first rate infrastructure that any private company can travel on without lossing much of it's juice along the way than we open the system up to many different private entries who will have the added benifit of access without lossing all their generation along the highway. It will also give us more efficient utilization of current technology.

    By subsidizing big powere generators the government is actually keeping new technologies from entering the market and creating real competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    What does whupping our rears in alt-energy really mean. We whupped the entire worlds butt when it came to land line phones and it means almost nothing today since the technology no longer matters.
    its the same tired, boring argument from the left; alternative energy!!! off foreign oil!!! no nukes!!! must do it now!!!

    the no nukes movement was almost a quarter century ago when the leftists were screaming for renewable sources, blah-blah-blah....then they gave us the lunacy of algore...now its the fear of falling behind china....

    yet they have done very little, and in many cases haven't done a fuqin thing to better the situation over the past three decades except whine like little girls that others should be doing more...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Come Back to NY View Post
    its the same tired, boring argument from the left; alternative energy!!! off foreign oil!!! no nukes!!! must do it now!!!

    the no nukes movement was almost a quarter century ago when the leftists were screaming for renewable sources, blah-blah-blah....then they gave us the lunacy of algore...now its the fear of falling behind china....

    yet they have done very little, and in many cases haven't done a fuqin thing to better the situation over the past three decades except whine like little girls that others should be doing more...
    Wait..they have expanded the useless department of energy AND taken millions from the auto industry to keep us dependant on foreign oil.

    I heard John Kerry was going to go solar on his yacht, right after he pays the back taxes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    Everyone loves these big renewable projects. My own opinion is these giant wind and solar parks are going to be a natural dissaster of epic proportions down the line. The cheapest renewable energy source hydro electric has done a huge amount of damage to the landscape and I have no doubt these giant projects are goind to destroy the desert and create all kinds of unintended consequences to the environment.

    We allready have rooftops and private property that are perfectly suited to generating solar and wind in small none intrusive footprints that have the added benifit of freeing private property owners from the burden of public utility and the government. Once we have better battery technology these big projects will not only be expensive and obsolete, they pose a significant risk to the environment.
    Batteries are no longer an issue for folks connected to the electrical grid. Most states allow homeowners to sell unused power to the utilities. This makes the utility companies a battery. People sell their excess electricity during the day when demand is highest and buy from the grid when the sun is down. Also, this system allows solar electric owners to forgo having large, expensive toxic lead based fork lift batteries in their garage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Translation: The project is economicaly not viable, and requires massive taxpayer spending to happen.

    Next: The project is unprofitable, and requires regular influx of taxpayer funding to continue operation.

    Renewable/Less Polluting Energy is good, and I can support it. But everyone should understand that the electric bill will not be the only place you pay for your power in such a future. Your taxes will pay for it as well.

    We subsidize the oil industry with taxes by building military bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq to protect our supply. We subsidized nuclear power plants out the waazoo with the initial building and now with Yucca Mountain. Why not subsidize clean electrical production in the USA. In the long run we may push electricity prices down far enough to help make our manufacturing competitive again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    We subsidize the oil industry with taxes by building military bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq to protect our supply.
    And again, like Bit, you're mixing your issues.

    If you have an issue with a Foreign Policy based, in part at least, on securing Oil-based Allies, thats fine. But it's not what I'm discussing here, it is a seperate issue.

    Oil, Gas and Coal, in and of themselves, is profitable.

    Wind and Solar, in and of themselves, is not (yet).

    Tax breaks, foreign policy, etc. is not the same as having to simply and directly insert 50-100% of the cost to ensure the project exists at all. It is a clear sign the project, on it's own merits, is economicaly non-viable.

    Tax breaks, foreign policy, even if both were ended tomorrow, Oil, Gas and Coal could continue to exist and profit (albeit at a far reduced level).

    Why not subsidize clean electrical production in the USA.
    It's not clean.

    It's cleaner.

    In the long run we may push electricity prices down far enough to help make our manufacturing competitive again.
    Wind and Solar (to-date) do not push down costs. Niot even close, those sources are some of the most expensive available. And that is before one includes the "hidden" costs of direct Govt. funding.

    As I said, I am all for technological develoment (yes, even with Govt. funding) and a shift away from Fossil Fuels to renewable, secure and advanced tech. energy sources.

    But the issue should be approached honestly, not (as it is now) as if Solar/Wind was a panecea of sparkling clean, problem free, economically-booming power. It has a loooooooong way to go before it gets to that point, and the other fuels availble all have roles to play until the tech catches up with our desires.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster View Post
    Why not subsidize clean electrical production in the USA...
    Because it's gay

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    Quote Originally Posted by PlumberKhan View Post
    Because it's gay


    Love ya PK, but sometimes your emphasis or sarcasm every single time (withotu fail) gets a bit tiresome.

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