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Cleantech's solar array will be seven times larger than the next closest rival

Portugal announced in April that it was home to one of the world's largest solar arrays. The 150 acre, 11-megawatt (MW) solar plant was built by Catavento and PowerLight Corporation and is capable of powering 8,000 homes in Serpa.

Cleantech America LLC., a San Francisco-based company, plans to build a solar farm that would far eclipse the one built in Portugal. The new 80 MW farm, known as the Kings River Conservation District Community Choice Solar Farm, will be situated on 640 acres of land and is scheduled to be completed by 2011.

"We're pretty confident that solar farms on this scale are going to have an industry-changing impact," said Cleantech CEO Bill Barnes. "We think it's the wave of the future. This scale of project, I think, creates a tipping point for renewable energy."

"We think the impact for it will be similar to the impact of the computer chip," Barnes continued. "So too will economies of scale like the Community Choice farm drive down the cost of solar."

Cleantech estimates that the energy generated by the solar array will be enough to power 20,000 homes.

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I agree
By zsouthboy on 7/10/2007 9:48:47 AM , Rating: 2
ouch - 640 acres for 80 mw is..


RE: I agree
By Shintai on 7/10/2007 10:02:49 AM , Rating: 2
Now tell us how much land is needed to coalplants and coalmines. or the radius around nulcear plants and such. And this is still not 640 acres (1 sq mile) of 100% covered ground.

RE: I agree
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 10:11:06 AM , Rating: 3
The other energy production sources you mention also produce orders of magnitude more energy.

RE: I agree
By Shintai on 7/10/2007 10:18:20 AM , Rating: 2
How much area does a nuclear plant take as safety area? How much for the uranium mining? How much for waste disposal and treatment plants?

Each reactor might give you 10x more power. But the land that it requires for different security, safety and production grows really fast.

RE: I agree
By masher2 on 7/10/2007 10:39:11 AM , Rating: 5
> "Each reactor might give you 10x more power. "

More like 75-90 times as much power. The max MW rating of a solar plant is roughly 3X higher than its net output, due to cloud cover, the light-dark cycle, etc.

> "How much area does a nuclear plant take as safety area?"

That's already included in the base figure for plant size.

> "how much for the uranium mining?"

Very little. A few pounds of uranium will fuel your average reactor for a couple years. If you assume reprocessing, it'll supply it far longer than that. These aren't coal plants, which require millions of tons of fuel to operate.

RE: I agree
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 7/10/2007 11:39:11 AM , Rating: 2
> "how much for the uranium mining?"

I thought decommissioned weapons from the US and former soviet states were the main source of nuclear material now. ?

RE: I agree
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 12:45:46 PM , Rating: 3
Since March 1993, 250 metric tons of uranium from weapons have been transformed into fuel for nuclear power plants. That's the equivalent of 10,000 dismantled nuclear weapons. This is the result of the United States and the Russian Federation signing an agreement on the disposition and purchase of 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons, the equivalent of 20,000 nuclear warheads.

I don't know what fraction of the total fuel demand that represents, however.

RE: I agree
By Ringold on 7/10/2007 6:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
The current low price for uranium is due to the glut of that Soviet-era material having been dumped on the market -- but I hear that excess has been nearly worked off. A good article in Christian Science Monitor recently detailing how all the old uranium mines from the Cold War days are roaring back to life -- often under foreign management.

RE: I agree
By noxipoo on 7/10/2007 2:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
and solar panels aren't made out of hugs and kisses. the mining and waste by products that goes into all that equipment grows really fast.

RE: I agree
By masher2 on 7/10/2007 10:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
> "tell us how much land is needed to coalplants and coalmines. or the radius around nulcear plants and such"

Radius around a nuclear plant? Zero. Several have residential housing abutting up to the edge of the compound itself.

Solar power is incredibly wasteful of land with current technology. That's why its not a viable solution. To power even our current needs-- much less future growth-- would require papering over an entire state with solar panels. And not a small state, either.

RE: I agree
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2007 10:32:59 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. My friend works for Washington Group. His apartment is a 10 minute walk from the office. Some of the most toxic chemicals on the planet are stored not 20 minutes from there.

And waste wouldn't be as big a problem if we configured our reactors to use reprocessed fuel instead of throwing it away after its spent because we're afraid of producing weapons grade nuclear material.

Nuclear power is a near limitless supply of energy for centuries to come if we use fuel reprocessing (and we'll have to since the world is quickly running out of uranium).

RE: I agree
By Amiga500 on 7/10/2007 11:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
Even better than that, in 15 or so years time we'll hopefully have accelerated particle reactors which are much more efficient than current reprocessing plants.

They produce more energy, are safer, and the waste out the back is 99% harmless, with the dangerous stuff having half-lifes of around 50/100 years - nothing really.

The nuclear crowd should really be pushing that technology as a means of cleaning up the current waste before fusion arrives.

RE: I agree
By Comdrpopnfresh on 7/10/2007 11:33:09 AM , Rating: 2
There used to be a reprocessing company in the US. then the government changed some regulatory fee, and they were ran out of business. No one domestically has taken their place. As for "configuring" current reactors... Reprocessing is a process done to semi-spent fuel. The remaining useful portions are removed and placed into new fuel rods, and even the spent parts can be put into a different reactor where they can re-absorb neutrons and "breed" the fuel used by most.
Everyone likes the idea of simply switching to different energy sources, but solar is inefficient (and introduces hazardous waste and pollution in large quantities), and our current nuclear technology/usage/habits across the globe amounts to ~100 years of uranium left. Add more plants, no reprocessing, and well, it won't make it that long.

If the US really wanted to save money on energy, we would make a new efficient energy grid based upon 220/240V. Higher voltage means less loss in transmitting the electricity, and a new grid would efficiently route spare energy. We could save billions of dollars a year, and more each year as old 60hz/120v appliances are phased out.
But this won't happen for the same reason the switch to metric won't- the public is too lazy and cares more about sitting on a couch eating artery-clogging food while watching dancing with the stars vs going through a bit of change that benefits everyone, especially their own children...

RE: I agree
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2007 12:05:31 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not against a new power grid. The issue is who's going to pay for it. Because you can be damn sure the power companies won't.

Definitely with you on the whole "Dancing with the Stars" thing. It amazes me that people actually watch crap like that. I mean I love watching TV. But I try to watch something a little more intelligent or meaningful than that crap. Sure South Park doesn't count as either, but at least every episode ends with a good point being made. ;)

All I know is when networks are getting so desperate that they'll come up with shows like playing Bingo, that's a bad sign. Whats next?

"This fall on NBC. An amazing series like nothing ever before seen on television. It will blow you away. 'On Time'. A show about people trying to get to work on time. See the action. Enjoy the drama. Revel in the success. Why should you watch it? Because you've got nothing else to fucking do. On Time. Watch it this fall on NBC. Or we'll develop even more retarded shows."

RE: I agree
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 1:13:03 PM , Rating: 3
If the US really wanted to save money on energy, we would make a new efficient energy grid based upon 220/240V. Higher voltage means less loss in transmitting the electricity, and a new grid would efficiently route spare energy. We could save billions of dollars a year, and more each year as old 60hz/120v appliances are phased out.

You sure about that?

Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 7.2% in 1995 [2], and in the UK at 7.4% in 1998. [3]

120VAC only appears at the point of use (customer end) of the power grid. The energy already gets there using high-voltage lines (e.g., 110KV and higher).

RE: I agree
By darkpaw on 7/10/2007 2:48:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yah, transmission is done at the 100Ks of volts level not at 220 or 120 so it really doesn't matter.

It isn't stepped down to 120 until its right outside your house or worse just up the street. The transmission loss over that short of distance is negligible.

RE: I agree
By Comdrpopnfresh on 7/10/2007 9:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
sorry if you misunderstood. I didn't mean transmission- yeh, that is super-high voltage. I meant upon household use. which is more efficient- just look at the psu ratings. the 220v achieves higher efficiencies...

RE: I agree
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 10:54:11 PM , Rating: 2
OK, sounds like you're changing your tune. I'm going to have to ask you for links for that statement now. I do see that some dual-voltage PSUs are 1-3% more efficient running at 240VAC instead of 120VAC, but what about the types of loads that make up the majority of electric use? By that I'm talking about motors and lights (incandescent and fluorescent)? I would be surprised to learn they are more efficient at 240VAC.

RE: I agree
By Comdrpopnfresh on 7/10/2007 11:37:41 PM , Rating: 2
Ohm's law- V=IxR
R must remain constant by this law (for all intents and purposes let's say a light bulb is), therefore V is doubled, and I is halved. I would be current draw. I forgot that man large appliances run on 220 for the efficiency, but extending it to lower appliances would not be bad....

RE: I agree
By TomZ on 7/10/2007 11:45:03 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, nice try. Have a nice day!

RE: I agree
By Chernobyl68 on 7/10/2007 6:32:50 PM , Rating: 2
the electric "grid" is actually hundreds of thousands of volts (KV). regional substations usually step that down to about 12KV, Its not until it gets to your local neighborhood that the voltages is stepped down to 240/120. You're not losing that much.

RE: I agree
By derdon on 7/10/2007 10:40:38 AM , Rating: 2
There's a lot more that you need to factor in for nuclear/coal plants. They need mines, then the raw materials must be transported requiring streets/oil/... Preprocession, storage, retransportation...
If you sum that all up there's a lot more space wasted than appears.

RE: I agree
By masher2 on 7/10/2007 10:50:39 AM , Rating: 3
> "There's a lot more that you need to factor in for nuclear/coal plants..."

For coal plants, sure. Not nuclear. A CANDU fuel rods bundle is small enough you can easily hold it in one hand...and it'll generate over 1M kW-h of electricity. One single truckload of those can supply an entire nation with power for a year.

Furthermore, some modern nuclear reactors can use raw uranium, not enriched, meaning there's need for a preprocessing plant.

RE: I agree
By ttowntom on 7/10/2007 11:03:13 AM , Rating: 2
The Portugal solar plant requires two truckloads a week. Not of fuel but rather cleaning solution, brought in to clean those huge arrays.

RE: I agree
By Comdrpopnfresh on 7/10/2007 11:41:15 AM , Rating: 3
off-site land is an issue with fossil fuels more so than nuclear- just as the DT staff has pointed out about three times so far.
But you cry foul about it with current technologies, but not offside pollution for solar arrays! The solvents needed to create the silicon crystals in their formations are highly toxic and carcinogenic. The doping agents used for the cells are also dangerous. Mining is done for arsenic which is also a doping agent, and it is released during processing, and is shipped from mine to manufacturing site too. The cells also lose efficiency over time. They produce less and less power each year, need replacements and repairs, and do you really think they will be disposed of properly?
In conclusion:
there are NO FAIRIES that poop out solar panels, hydrogen, ethanol, or uranium fuel rods. People need to form whole opinions when hearing about "green" alternatives, because industries make a habit of only including charts, graphs, and info that reveals a portion of information that makes things look attractive.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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