World's Largest Solar Project Would Power 1 Million U.S. Homes

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    SolarReserve has announced plans to build a massive concentrated solar power plant in Nevada that can generate between 1,500 and 2,000 megawatts of power, which is comparable to a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam.

    SolarReserve's Sandstone project involves at least 100,000 mirrored heliostats that capture the sun's rays and concentrates it onto 10 towers equipped with a molten salt energy storage system. The molten salt, heated to more than 1,000 degrees, then boils water and creates a steam turbine that can drive generators 24/7. Compared to photovoltaic arrays, the appeal of CSP systems is that solar power can be used after sunset. "It's really the ability to provide renewable energy that's available on demand 24 hours a day," Smith told NPR. SolarReserve already operates a CSP plant near Tonopah, a revolutionary 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant that's now powering Nevada homes.
     
  2. TechLarry

    TechLarry Can't find the G Spot

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    I still say we are under-using wave bouys. I don't see why every coastal town can't provide their power this way. It's proven technology.
     
  3. Nobified[H]

    Nobified[H] [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yes, problem is its been irradiated by fukushima! :joyful:
     
  4. bos

    bos Limp Gawd

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    Because who owns coastal property? Rich people. Thats why.
     
  5. TechLarry

    TechLarry Can't find the G Spot

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    They don't own the water.
     
  6. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics I don't get it

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    With fairly high maintenance costs associated with it, working in rough choppy waters isn't exactly a "lets swing by home depot to get some workers" type of job.
     
  7. RMCO

    RMCO n00b

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    The issue isn't making power, it's the storage and transmission of that power. You can only push it out so far and most people don't live in the desert where solar is most plentiful. Besides, fossil fuels are still too cheap. Otherwise you could just set up huge solar farms in the desert and pump in sea water for large electrolysis facilities and capture that solar energy as hydrogen gas for fuel cells and whatnot.
     
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  8. Tsumi

    Tsumi [H]ardForum Junkie

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    With our current technology, we have the methods to solve our energy problems. It is simply a matter of money and will to do so.
     
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  9. spinach_chin

    spinach_chin [H]Lite

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    Let's put this in perspective: It's over 15 times the size of the largest nuke plant, and produces 1/4 the electricity...
     
  10. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Yeah, just see what happened with the cape wind project in Massachusetts.

    They fought it in the course for so long that despite ultimately being approved most of the contracts fell through and the project will likely never happen.

    Rich assholes with waterfront property on Cape Cod were worried it might ruin their view of the ocean despite being 5.2miles at its closest point (almost 14 miles at many points) from shore and almost entirely invisible.

    The dumbest part is that these are people who otherwise consider themselves progressive and greens, but who turned against it the moment it might have even a slight disadvantage to them (even if only perceived and not real)

    Everyone is a hypocrite these days. If you believe in something you need to believe in it regardless of how it impacts yourself...
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
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  11. acairman

    acairman [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Who in the hell wants that monstrosity in the middle of a desert, it ruins the landscape.
     
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  12. Rustynuts

    Rustynuts [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Let's make Cape Cod green again! National park and condemn all properties! Would be hilarious.
     
  13. TechLarry

    TechLarry Can't find the G Spot

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    Exactly. Basically, when it comes to the money, the "haves" and the "have not's" have not been figured out yet. In other words, who will be the one's to get filthy rich off of it.

    It won't be any of us, that's for damn sure.
     
  14. Poseur

    Poseur Limp Gawd

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    You're ignoring ore mining, processing and waste disposal of the radioactive materials. I'm not against nuclear power, it's just a weak argument point. Solar should be everywhere and not tucked off in the desert. I'd be happy to live within a mile of that solar farm. I work next to one and it's no big deal at all. The opposite is true for nuclear.

    I wonder if this is at all tied to Lake Mead's water levels.
     
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  15. spinach_chin

    spinach_chin [H]Lite

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    And? Building of solar plants also would require vast amounts of raw material. Disposal is not a logistical problem, but a political one. Born of ignorance and misinforation, I might add. The same goes for the dangers of living next to a nuclear plant.

    Nuclear can go virtually anywhere, with no adverse affects on efficiency of output. Solar is most efficient in desert regions, and far less efficient in areas that have cloud cover for part of the year.
     
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  16. Tsumi

    Tsumi [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Fast reactors can output 20-100 times more power than traditional reactors from the same fuel, and its wastes are far less toxic and lasts a far shorter amount of time. The problem is expense; it is far more expensive per KW to operate a fast reactor.
     
  17. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    I wonder if they've been given a pass allowing them to kill endangered birds like the solar plant in California?

    Any other business that killed even 1% as many migratory birds would be shut down, sued out of business, or would have never been allowed to have be built.
     
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  18. Gorankar

    Gorankar [H]ardForum Junkie

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    A lot of people are for a lot of things until they have pay, suffer, or even be inconvenienced for it.
    A great many people are, "I am all for it, but not in my back yard.", sort of people. Perhaps even most people.
     
  19. jardows

    jardows [H]ard|Gawd

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    That was my question when I saw the article - what is the land footprint of such a solar plant. Seems to me that the land used by the farm could be put to other uses. Just goes to show that Solar is not even close to being practical for large-scale deployment.

    From an environmental impact, while it seems "clean" once the panels are put up and are converting Solar energy into electricity, the manufacturing process for these is anything but. For a global environmental impact, it is actually worse environmentally to use Solar panels for mass electricity generation than to use other methods.
     
  20. Uvaman2

    Uvaman2 2[H]4U

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    The enegy 'crisis' have been long solved by technology.
    Its a matter of transitioning.
     
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  21. ep0x73

    ep0x73 2[H]4U

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    The panels won't last as long and just how many acres of land are going to be dug up to build this?
    We are not at the point to which panels are better then 15% efficient.
     
  22. Jagger100

    Jagger100 [H]ardness Supreme

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    We don't have energy problems. We have a deformed evolution of 200 year old Puritan Guilt applied to the environment which makes people absolutely certain we're doing something bad.
     
  23. Poseur

    Poseur Limp Gawd

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    A lot of people didn't read the article.
    It's 16061 (25 square miles) acres of barren Nevada desert. Nobody will miss it. Well, maybe a few coyotes, rabbits and such.
    It's concentrated solar (mirrors pointed at towers) and not photovoltaic.
    Photovoltaic efficiency is up to ~25% for residential panels now. 17-20% is far more common though. PV panels last for decades, but they very slowly decrease in output. PV panel prices have come down probably >50% in the last 10 years. If you can do the installation yourself, the parts about $1700/kW for grid tied PV. PV works in Antarctica, Northern Canada, Hawaii and everywhere else the sun shines. Not just the dry desert.
     
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  24. britjh22

    britjh22 Limp Gawd

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    As far as the manufacturing process not being clean, this is a salt based heliostat concentration installation, not photovoltaic, meaning the "dirtiness" of PV manufacturing doesn't apply. As far as using the land for something else, what other great use of remote desert environment would you suggest?
     
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  25. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    1.) In some countries land use may be a problem, but not in ours. We have massive amounts of unused or underused land. And this is in the middle of a desert, land that is otherwise completely wasted.

    2.) No panels used in this solar plant. It's a molten salt reflector design. Essentially a bunch of mirrors focused on a tank of molten salts. The molten salts get hot enough that they are warm enough to boil water even when the sun isn't up. The steam from the boiling then goes through a gas turbine to produce power, just like any heat based power plant (nuclear, oil, coal, gas, you name it). Solar power 24/7. This is the proper way to do solar. Panels are crap by comparison.

    3.) It has one massive advantage over a nuclear plant that more than makes up for its disadvantage in size. There is no final storage problem. Do you realize that in the 60 or so years we have had Nuclear power 0% of the highly radioactive, toxic waste has been committed to final storage?

    It's just sitting in temporary storage pools around the country waiting for a political decision about what to do with it, that will never come due to NIMBY's not wanting it in their back yards.

    While there it is at a risk of a great nu.ber of problems, including industrial accidents, natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

    More nuclear power seems like an easy solution to greenhouse gas problems until you talk about how we haven't solved final storage and probably never will due to its political impossibility.

    I think these plants are a great idea. Now we just need to scale it up to 300+ million homes worth of power and make other forms of power generation obsolete.

    Building these things will be massive construction projects, but once completed, their operation will be relatively cheap and low maintenance. We are just dealing with mirrors, a tank and a gas turbine. No need for expensive.mining operations to get fuel or figure out what to do with the waste.
     
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  26. jardows

    jardows [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks for the explanation on the type of solar plant being used here. I still question the net gain - the power to manufacture the material for the facility has to come from somewhere. What is the expected lifetime of the molten salt? How often do the mirror panels have to be replaced, etc? Not trying to be too negative here, but there is no such thing as completely free, clean energy. Just a spectrum of how expensive/"dirty" it is to generate.

    I'm sure there's an endangered variety of field mouse or lizard that we have yet to discover that lives out there!
     
  27. doz

    doz [H]ardness Supreme

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    Serious? Hoover Dam? Read about it.

    They store that energy and transmit that power hundreds of miles. Most of the Dams power goes to CA. And there are already huge solar farms. We are talking thousands of square miles of solar fields (including whats being built currently).
     
  28. bos

    bos Limp Gawd

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    This doesn't use solar panels...it uses mirrors to focus sunlight to heat a mass of sodium...think ant under a magnifying glass.
     
  29. /usr/sbin

    /usr/sbin Successfully Trolled by Megalith

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    Oh, that's a deal breaker because the USA is short on land.... oh wait...

    I think the USA should be all hydro, wind, nuke, and solar for power.


    How many times can you melt iron? While salt is technically a compound and not an element, as long as it's sealed so no reactions take place it should last indefinitely.


    Good question, I'd assume the mirrors would weather and lose reflectivity over time. If I recall correctly the reflectors were composed of a highly polished metal. I'd assume they could be re-polished and after a certain period of time possibly melted and recycled.
     
  30. ep0x73

    ep0x73 2[H]4U

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    If that is the case then why not just heat water, boiler 101 but without using coal like in the old days. Steam is still one of the best.
     
  31. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You just said, "I think the USA should be all subsidized, subsidized, subsidized, and subsidized for power.

    Every single one of those power sources enjoy huge subsidies to make them remotely viable, and you can't subsidize EVERYTHING on your power grid (yes, nuclear power is also subsidized).

    Also, while hydro and nuke is consistent power, wind and solar are unfortunately inconsistent, and so unless you overproduce and have an efficient means to store the power for when its needed, they can't make up a large percentage of the grid (while solar panels are getting ass cheap, molten salt storage method is 'spensive' as hell last I checked). Otherwise, Houston has a cloudy week during winter, and we have brown outs all over the city... worse in Northern cities, since the Earth's tilt mean even more seasonal variation, in addition to of course the fact that its producing near zero power late in the evening during peak usage when people come home from work and its dark.

    And environmentalists are against hydro, since it typically destroys existing ecosystems by causing flooding and blocking the path of aquatic life (although granted it creates new ones).

    The United States has more natural gas and coal than it even knows what to do with, and clean coal has very low emissions save for carbon-dioxide.

    There are two solutions to this which includes carbon sequestration, in which its simply pumped under ground in locations that have lots of clay layers (common in Texas), and scientists say they now have a way to turn that wasted CO2 into even more energy, in the form of ethanol: Scientists Have Discovered A Way To Turn CO2 Into Ethanol, Here’s What That Means | Houston Public Media

    That means that coal plants could become not only the least expensive energy source, but the highest yield output and one of the cleanest as well, using a domestic resource we have in unbelievable abundance.

    The ethanol production can also mean that we can stop using corn-ethanol biofuel, which is hugely wasteful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  32. Dayaks

    Dayaks [H]ardness Supreme

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    Isn't this a molten salt plant? Why are people talking about PV panels and their production?

    This guy beat me to it...

    It's a bunch of mirrors.
     
  33. Ducman69

    Ducman69 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Which is great in the desert near the equator, but not exactly a viable solution in Chicago.
     
  34. bigddybn

    bigddybn [H]ardness Supreme

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    Don't worry, in 3 years we will read how the output was reduced because of BS reason number 1 and the cost triple the original estimate because of BS reason number 2.
     
  35. Dayaks

    Dayaks [H]ardness Supreme

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    Which is fine... Build them where it makes sense and as much as makes sense.
     
  36. /usr/sbin

    /usr/sbin Successfully Trolled by Megalith

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    In a way they are, the molten salt is a energy storage medium.

    They heat the salt to 1000+ degrees Fahrenheit and store what isn't used in a very well insulated tank. The molten salt is used to heat water to make steam and produce power. Overnight the salt from the storage tank is used to produce steam. This allows 24/7 solar power operation.
     
  37. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    That is what they are doing, but with the salt in between.

    Sun heats salt, salt heats water, water powers steam turbine like every other power plant (nuclear/gas/coal/etc.)

    The salt stage is in there because it can be superheated during the day and retains its heat overnight, so the plant can keep producing power even when there is no sun.
     
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  38. dgz

    dgz [H]ardness Supreme

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    I hear birds LOVE these concentrated light beams.

    Clean coal... hmm. How about no?
     
  39. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Official Forum Curmudgeon

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    Clean coal is a myth spun up by the pro-coal industry lobby and think tank groups. No such thing ever has existed, no such thing exists today and no such thing ever will exist. One way or another it contains some of the most vile substances known to man, and whether we are letting them spew out into the air or trying to deal with them in other ways it is still horribly harmful.

    If it were up to me I'd put a draconian tax on the stuff, large enough to slowly kill the entire coal industry, and forward the proceeds directly to projects that kick off clean power like the OP of this thread.

    It's time we shut down coal once and for all. That shit is vile and just needs to die. This is not the 19th century anymore. If you told Jules Verne that we'd still be using coal in 2016, he would have been horrified.
     
  40. ep0x73

    ep0x73 2[H]4U

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    Coal is still cheap, we have trillions of metric tons of it and plants can and do use scrubbers to remove a huge amount of toxins, hell motor vehicles are probably spewing more garbage.

    Another case in point, why should we the USA kill coal when China and India are using it more and more and they don't give a damn about pollution?

    Until any green energy is as cheap, reliable and available as coal is it is simply not a viable option right now.

    I still say that nuclear fusion is more the future if we could ever get it going and contain it.

    Nothing puts out energy like a mini star.