Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, Nipton, California

The plant has a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW).  It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors focusing solar energy on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers The first unit of the system was connected to the electrical grid in September 2013 for an initial synchronisation test. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014.

The bright spots of Ivanpah are clearly visible from above Las Vegas 


  1. Now that we know the gross capacity, let's see the actual daily mega-watt-hour energy production since 2014. So we can compare it to a conventional, 24-hour-availability gas power generation plant of the same 'gross' capacity. This would be how a normal comparative evaluation of conventional versus alternative technology would proceed.

  2. Sorry, being snarky. You can find it here:
    The plant uses natural gas to bring the boilers up to temperature before sunrise.
    "In 2014, the plant burned 867,740 million BTU of natural gas emitting 46,084 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is nearly twice the pollution threshold at which power plants and factories in California are required to participate in the state’s cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions.[32] If that fuel had been used in a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant, it would have generated about 124,000 MW·h of electrical energy.[33] The facility used that gas plus solar energy to produce 524,000 MW·h of electrical energy (more than four times that of the referenced CCGT plant), all the while operating at well below its expected output. In 2015, the facility showed higher production numbers, with Q1 increases of 170% over the same time period in 2014.[34]"

    Given the theoretical capacity of the plant (392 MW), the actual output due to its daily shutdown at sunset means that the actual output for 2017 of 719,398 MW-h was 21% of capacity. Of course, a NG-fired power gen plant also has downtime for equipment outage and maintenance. But their % capacity uptime is substantially higher. And they work at night.

  3. Every kw of solar and wind power requires a kw of so-called backup, almost always a natural gas fueled gas turbine. Since the capacity factor of solar and wind systems is typically 10% or less, and since even the best sites have capacity factors of 35% or less, the so-called backups actually produce at least 65 to 90+% of the total rated power. In effect, you have a natural gas fueled power plant with an additional, unnecessary solar/wind plant. The gas turbines idle when solar/wind power is available, so solar/wind plants continuously emit carbon dioxide. Not that this is in addition to the gas burned at Ivanpah.

    The cost of the electricity generated by the solar part of the facility, not counting the natural gas generation, is much larger than cost of natural gas power. So the plant is uneconomical.

    The Ivanpah facility reached $1.6B in loan guarantees from the Dept. of Energy and gets all sorts of other breaks and subsidies. Ivanpah was justified not economically but by the promise it would reduce CO2 emissions. It doesn't, and it doesn't qualify for California's CO2 programs.

  4. Is this the one that roasts all birds that happen to fly too close?

    1. Yup, and the only setting is "Well Done".

    2. Why not just move all the bums and derelicts from 'Frisco and L A to the site? Free cooked lunches and they can shit in the desert as much as they want, win-win

    3. Just don't hit a tortoise.

  5. Harry Reid promoted that and it was a species of scam - to save the planet from global warming. It may have worked because of the coming ice age.