Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Green? Maybe Not So Much

August 18, 2008

Soon Nevada may no longer have the largest solar power plant in the nation, the 14-MW Solar One at Nellis. Two larger plants are planned for California, although they face possible bureaucratic hurdles.

The plants will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels, and in the middle of a sunny day will generate about 800 megawatts of power, roughly equal to the size of a large coal-burning power plant or a small nuclear plant.

Elsewhere in California, legal action has possibly prevented several other power plants from being built. One of the proposed plants affected by the ruling is a natural-gas facility slated for the city of Vernon. It would generate 914-MW and, according to this article, require 13.7 acres. Yes acres.

There are 640 acres in one square mile, which means the natural-gas plant planned for Vernon would generate 667 times more power per acre than the solar plants. And that’s comparing peak power from the solar facilities to anytime power from the gas. So, in reality, the Vernon facility likely would generate approximately 2000 times the power per acre than the two solar plants.

The court ruling affects 12 other facilties besides the one in Vernon. One official stated that the Los Angeles Basin needs 2000 MW of new capacity to avoid brownouts and blackouts. Solar plants using the same technology as those touted in the NYT article would require a minimum of 31 square miles of photovoltaic cells. Think the enviros will go for that? I’m not holding my breath.

UPDATE: I’d like to make clear that I believe that solar is the power source of the future – well, along with nuclear. But the idea that we can simply quit building new coal- or gas-fired plants or reduce the number of them that we currently have and still be able to provide adequate power for our homes, schools and offices is quite simply a fantasy.

Quote of the Day

August 15, 2008

Engineer Bruce Anderson, in response to journalist Thomas Friedman:

Have you noticed that the people shouting loudest to make developing oil fields impossible, to tax gasoline to astronomical levels, and to have government subsidized “Manhattan Projects” to create the breakthroughs in solar, wind, waves, bio-mass, etc., are the same people who did not take the math, science and engineering courses in college? Despite their profound ignorance in these subjects, they are sure that creating enough pain will cause those of us who did grind away in these fields for all these years to suddenly have that amazing insight which will let us repeal the third law of thermodynamics. Their core belief is that genius comes forth when misery is piled sufficiently high.  Why don’t we announce the oil industry is going to build offshore “tire inflation” platforms and put some “auto tune-up centers” in ANWR for good measure, and just go about our business, with these airheads never the wiser?

You’ll have to scroll down a ways to find it. I’m not well-versed at linking within the page at Best of the Web.

Making the Case for Drilling

August 15, 2008

ANWR in pictures.

h/t Blogfather