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  (Source: 4.bp.blogspot.com)
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will be world's largest solar power tower plant

Google announced yesterday that it has invested a large sum of money into a new solar energy power tower plant that will be located in the Mojave Desert in California. 

Google is catching a lot of heat lately between the FTC's possible antitrust investigation into the web search giant's internet dominance and Microsoft's problem with Google's "misleading security claims to the government." But with this latest project, Google is investing in a project that is sure to have some positive reviews.

The project is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), and Google has invested $168 million toward the cause. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which is being developed by BrightSource Energy, is 450 feet tall and began construction in October 2010 by the engineering firm Bechtel. It will be the world's largest solar power tower plant. 

"We need smart capital to transform our energy sector and build a clean energy future," said The Official Google Blog. "This is our largest investment to date, and we've now invested over $250 million in the clean energy sector [total]. We're excited about Ivanpah because our investment will help deploy a compelling solar energy technology that provides reliable clean energy, with the potential to significantly reduce costs on future projects."

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is expected to generate 392 gross megawatts of solar energy, and will have a lifespan of about 25 years. This amount of solar energy produced is like taking 90,000 cars of the road over the plant's lifetime.  

This new system works by using 173,000 heliostats, which are mirrors that focus the sun's rays onto a solar receiver, which is located at the top of a tower. These mirrors pack a large amount of solar energy into one small area. The solar receiver then generates steam that spins a turbine and generator to create electricity. The steam is produced at high pressure and a high temperature of up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The project is expected to be completed in 2013, and will be funded by clean energy technology guarantees offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and by NRG. 



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173,000 panels. How much area does this thing need?
By HueyD on 4/13/2011 8:49:19 AM , Rating: 2
How is this being used?




By HueyD on 4/13/2011 8:50:53 AM , Rating: 2
By HueyD on 4/13/2011 9:04:21 AM , Rating: 5
There are three phases. Two 100MW stations, each 850 acres and the final phase is one 200MW station that needs 1600 acres.
3300 acres total.

It uses natural gas to power the boiler in the morning or during cloudy days.

It's the desert so I guess it makes sense to use it in this way. But this would not be practical anywhere else.

Nuclear is still much more efficient and cost effective.


By SilentSin on 4/13/2011 9:52:45 AM , Rating: 1
Wonder why they didn't go with a molten salt design: http://www.sandia.gov/Renewable_Energy/solartherma... Using natural gas as a supplemental thermal source during sub optimal light conditions seems silly, and it can't work after dusk whatsoever.


By quiksilvr on 4/13/2011 10:00:15 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear is indeed the better solution but no one wants to put up with the endless safety precautions and public perception.

Solar is the quicker solution and projects like this helps on improving the technology.


By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:00:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's the desert so I guess it makes sense to use it in this way. But this would not be practical anywhere else.

Talk about your understatements; there's an awful lot of desert out there, and short of massive irrigation projects or mining (if there's anything to mine), there's not much else to do with it.


By stromgald30 on 4/13/2011 7:09:47 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Much more cost and space efficient.

392 MW sounds like a lot until you look at the total energy production of the US, which is around 450,000 MW. This effort by Google will produce less than 0.1% of the total US energy production, but I'm sure they'll tell you how impactful this will be (i.e. almost doubling solar capacity in the U.S.)

The sobering reality environmentalists don't always recognize is that building solar power to replace coal/oil is like trying to move Mount Everest with a common construction bulldozer. It can be done, but there are a lot of better/faster ways to do the job.


By Howard on 4/14/2011 2:33:14 AM , Rating: 2
It's about 2% of the total generation in California, which seems to me to be a figure a little more important. Nuclear would be difficult too, since there's little access in a desert to plentiful cooling water.


By SPOOFE on 4/16/2011 5:45:18 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the lack of elasticity in electricity demand, even a small fraction of a percent can make a big difference.


By rs2 on 4/13/2011 9:52:42 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
How is this being used?


Helios One, anybody?


$1.37 billion
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2011 8:43:56 AM , Rating: 2
To generate less than 500 megawatts. No thanks.




RE: $1.37 billion
By bh192012 on 4/13/2011 2:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
Over 25 years that's still a profit isn't it? Maybe not the best yield on 1.37 billion over 25 years, but it would be consistant.


RE: $1.37 billion
By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's also fairly good marketing. "Hey, look at us, we're Google and we're all green or something."


RE: $1.37 billion
By FITCamaro on 4/14/2011 9:55:12 AM , Rating: 1
I don't care about someone doing it. I care about the taxpayer paying for it.


RE: $1.37 billion
By geekfool on 4/16/2011 6:45:49 AM , Rating: 3
If you say so. 400 megawatts sold at $0.20 per kilowatt-hour is $80,000 per hour of operation. Assuming 12 hours of operation per day, the system will generate almost $1 million worth of energy daily, and about $350 million annually. So in 4 years it has earned back that $1.37 billion, and in its 25 year life-span it will earn it back another 5 times over.

So you can keep your no thanks, and I'll be happy to take your share of the project.


I hope they have guided tours
By IvanAndreevich on 4/12/2011 11:29:10 PM , Rating: 4
I'd gladly pay to see this in person. Must look amazing.




RE: I hope they have guided tours
By kattanna on 4/13/2011 3:56:06 PM , Rating: 2
i hear for an extra $40 they will take you to the top of the tower during the day

HOT!

;>)


RE: I hope they have guided tours
By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's a two hour drive from where I live; maybe I'll look into photographing this place, if I'm able.


so much to clean...
By wordsworm on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: so much to clean...
By gibb3h on 4/13/2011 4:03:33 AM , Rating: 2
I believe there are several ways of automated cleaning used, one being a special coating iirc


RE: so much to clean...
By wordsworm on 4/13/2011 9:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
Can you explain to me why its lifespan is only 25 years?


RE: so much to clean...
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/13/2011 10:29:29 AM , Rating: 2
Normal sedimentary wear on the lenses. Where there is desert, there is sand and wind. Scratching of the smooth shiny surfaces is inevitable. After many years the lenses will lose focus. Eventually the power output from the plant is beneath the amount required to maintain operation. I wouldnt expect that in at least 100 years though. Most likely the plant will be operating at >50% of its original peak output after 25 years, assuming they do replace the heliostats that get damaged by weather events and acts of got (like cell phones falling from the sky.)


RE: so much to clean...
By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
There's also probably the implicit assumption that there will be better technology available in 25 years. By placing a supposedly conservative estimate on lifespan they can then establish how much power they'd need to generate in order to Not Lose Money, which probably dictates how large the thing needs to be in order to hit that mark. Anything after 25 years would probably just be icing on the cake.


Huh?
By BrightMoon on 4/13/2011 2:38:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is expected to generate 392 gross megawatts of solar energy, and will have a lifespan of about 25 years. This amount of solar energy produced is like taking 90,000 cars of the road over the plant's lifetime.

How does generating electricity is the same as taking cars from the road? Carbon footprint difference maybe? "... of about 25 yrs. This amount of solar energy produced is like not having 90,000 additional cars on the road over the plant's lifetime." ...?




RE: Huh?
By Murloc on 4/13/2011 6:20:18 AM , Rating: 2
you don't produce energy either.


RE: Huh?
By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How does generating electricity is the same as taking cars from the road

They don't say it's "the same", they say it's "like". In other words, they're generating the same amount of energy as 90,000 cars without the emissions of 90,000 cars. It's a figure that's relatable to the average person, meaning it's meant to show off the endeavor to consumers (in other words, it's marketing) instead of really trying to describe the new plant's capabilities.


Clean Energy rather than just "Green"
By praeses on 4/13/2011 1:02:07 AM , Rating: 2
I like how we're steering away from the term "green" and towards "clean" as many "green" initiatives have proven to be worse than traditional methods (corn ethanol a.k.a $4/gal water, older solar panels, hybrid hummers).

The fact that it should have a relative low impact in both manufacturing the components as well as disposing them afterwards impresses me the most.

If it required some process doped in half a dozen chemicals I couldn't remember and require metals more expensive than gold in volume, I'ld be concerned about its economic benefits as well.

I think everyone involved in the project has assessed the market well in terms of public and investor interest, even if it is difficult to launch larger projects right now.




RE: Clean Energy rather than just "Green"
By bobny1 on 4/13/2011 6:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
The project is expected to be completed in 2013, and will be funded by clean energy technology guarantees offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and by NRG.

Any comments???!!!


RE: Clean Energy rather than just "Green"
By phantom505 on 4/13/11, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2011 8:49:41 AM , Rating: 1
Yes ethanol can be made from other things. But the government isn't pushing that. They're content making it from corn because of the massive subsidies to corn farmers.

E85s main problem is how corrosive it is and the fact that ethanol evaporates.

A far better idea is developing diesel produced from algae to be ready for mass production. A far better fuel and it doesn't involve raising food prices. Even if corn farmers switch from grass to corn, food prices still go up.

The insanity in all this is that some farmers are still being paid NOT to grow corn!


By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:14:10 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
at least it is a step in the right direction

False promises and incompetent execution is a step in the right direction? Jeez, I'd be scared to see what a step in the wrong direction looks like. Ethanol made out of babies, perhaps?


Google renames energy division "POSEIDON Energy"
By paydirt on 4/13/2011 7:19:45 AM , Rating: 3
...asks the BoS to defend the facility




By CList on 4/13/2011 8:29:19 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, I was just about to make a "HELIOS One" comment - you beat me to it...
From the picture I I bet we could convert it into a good weapons system... with a few minor modifications of course... anyone here have Repair > 85?


Why...
By gamerk2 on 4/13/2011 9:21:50 AM , Rating: 1
do we even need Solar power plants? Waste of money and space. Per unit power generation would be FAR more efficent, cheap, and reliable to boot. Using an array of solar cells to power a large area like a city is simply unfeasable.




RE: Why...
By Harinezumi on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why...
By SPOOFE on 4/13/2011 6:20:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Using an array of solar cells to power a large area like a city is simply unfeasable.

Because conventional energy generation NEVER has problems, right? Right?

No, you're correct that solar power alone can never reliably power a city. However, as a supplement to existing power infrastructure it has plenty of use.


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