Ivanpah showing its worth

Stanislav Jakuba takes a look at the numbers: Central Station Solar: Ivanpah Fail. It’s one of those solar efforts where the economy of scale was supposed to produce effective results.

This latest 392 MW (name-plate) giant was built on 13 km2 of land in Mojave Desert at a cost of 2.2 billion dollars. It generated a disappointing .4 billion kWh thus producing at an average rate of 46 MW the first year.

The $2,200 megawatt price per those 120 MW represents a $18/watt investment. By way of comparison, another nonpolluting source of electricity, nuclear power plant, the Millstone reactor No. 2 in Connecticut, operating at 880 MW since 1975, cost $0.5$/watt, making Ivanpah is thus 36 times more expensive (inflation excluded).

For comparison again, the Millstone nuclear plant complex employs also about 1,000, and its two reactors have been producing 1870 MW actual electrical output. Assuming the same salaries, benefits, and the electricity selling price, the operating expense is 15 times higher at Ivanpah.

As for the occupied land comparison, those 120 MW spread over 13 km2 represents 9.2 W/m2. In contrast, ground based nuclear plants produce some 2000 W/m2 thus utilizing the land area some 200 times more effectively. And they can be erected in any climate and in proximity to users.

The numbers indicate order of magnitude increase in cost for this alternative energy over nuclear. Who pays? It shows up in taxes and energy bills in a way that is regressive. That means the impact on the poor is most significant. The same people who are pushing this expensive energy are the same ones wailing about all the poor people. There is a disconnect in these people with reality and it hurts us all.

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