1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

And who said solar thermal is dead?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by sesmith, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. sesmith

    sesmith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2009
    Messages:
    190
    Loc:
    Central NY

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Doug MacIVER

    Doug MacIVER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    se mass
    and we paid for it? wouldn't be there if we didn't and continue to subsidize it each month.
    Minnesota Marty likes this.
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Kudos to Ivanpah! Humans are the only species who dump their toxic wastes so they go into their food, air and water for themselves and other living things to eat, breathe and drink. Fossil fuels are engines of toxic waste.
    woodgeek likes this.
  4. bmblank

    bmblank Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2013
    Messages:
    696
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Have you ever seen mouse chit EVERYWHERE? Where they eat sleep and breath.. I understand its not "toxic", but to say that humans only leave waste around is false. In fact, humans probably do the best at segregating their waste from everything else and expend the most energy keeping everything clean.
    hoverwheel and Doug MacIVER like this.
  5. MarkW

    MarkW Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Messages:
    203
    Loc:
    NE Ohio
    1000 degree bird cooker, from what I've been reading. I wonder what the equivelent area in PV would produce.
  6. sesmith

    sesmith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2009
    Messages:
    190
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Less, according to Bright Source. They say that the thermal steam generation at Ivanpah uses less land than equivalent amount of pv. By my very rough calculations approx 1517 gWhr per year from Ivanpah vs 1250 gWhr per year for an equivalent number of acres of pv. They also say less ground disturbance and grading is necessary for their system.
  7. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    In the electric generation arena, utility scale implementation of new technology is very risky and challenging. Ivanpah received large federal loan guarantees to get the financing to prove the technology. Likely will be some wrinkles, but also likely it will work and be competitive. And if so, it will pay off the loans and the public investment will have been well placed. I listened to the Sec of Energy speak on radio and if I remember correctly, already another utility was proceeding with this solar mirror steam generation without federal guarantees. Ivanpah and what it learned has paved the way.

    Same with nuclear. Dept of Energy has given large loan guarantees to the first new nuclear reactor construction in the US for a long time, also employing new technology. This is wise use of federal assistance: we need early starters, the cost is high, failure also is a real possibility, but successes can be huge, and then we all benefit, and that benefit comes from our willingness as a society to also bear the risk of failure.

    It's easy to point fingers at costly failures. And we probably should keep this in sight all the time, but we also need to celebrate huge successes from govt financing and loan guarantees of private industry venturing into extremely expensive new technology. Medicine, genetics, electronics are only a few of the areas where we have received great benefit because of federal assistance. And ultimately private industry also earns the profits of our investment in the early starters.
  8. Doug MacIVER

    Doug MacIVER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    se mass
    glad your convinced
    "That means the private sector must fill the gap at a time when building a natural-gas fired power plant costs about $1,000 per megawatt, a fraction of the $5,500 per megawatt that Ivanpah cost.

    "Our job was to kickstart the demonstration of these different technologies," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. here is the rest http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/13/us-solar-ivanpah-idUKBREA1C20A20140213
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    I have to say that generally I am convinced. A good friend of mine is an astrophysicist with the USAF and does basic research, the kind of stuff the federal govt (sometimes) spends lots of money on, not knowing what the outcomes will be. New discoveries, new technologies, huge advances in many areas are the result. Yes, the short term cost is high, but the "new" that works has even greater benefits and knowledge builds on knowledge, and we all benefit greatly.

    For the most part, gone are the days when a person with an ordinary microscope or a voltmeter can make an earth-shaking discovery. But the give the person an electron microscope or the Hadron Collider, at huge cost, and who knows what the outcome will be?
  10. Doug MacIVER

    Doug MacIVER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    se mass
    you cite many good advancements, all good things with advancements to different businesses. in this case we involve everybody within it's service area giving people the same product at an inflated price. so they are now having to pay for it's development. if a new tannery started to produce leather at 30% more dollars than it's competitors they wouldn't find customer one, given that the product is equal to that which is currently being produced. now comes gov't and mandates that you have to by this "new technology produced leather". under your argument they are the next sliced bread and they are in business. never mind the consumer, it's for your own good. cape wind in my area is a great example, guaranteed $.185/kw couldn't get off the ground. enter State of Mass. and steps on Nat'l grid. they agree to buy. not good enough says cape wind, we have to have n-star too. long story short cape wind now exist due to gov't, not because of the utility and rate payers but gov't.

    "Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
    The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
    It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society. " from pres Eisenhower's farewell it says it all.

    thanks for the discussion, have a day
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  11. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Doug, I think you and I agree nearly completely. I focused on the positive outcomes, you brought in the factors that can and have resulted in less than positive outcomes. Ultimately, we as a people need to come to a consensus on things important for the long term stability of our nation, the world and our own freedom, rather than live in continuing fear, suspicion, and blaming others for our own failures. We all need to do better.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    48,334
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Nat gas is better that coal, but Ivanpah now contributes how much CO and C02 vs an natural gas fired power plant?
  13. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Doug - check your $$$ on NG construction cost, as the cost is about $1000/kw, not megawatt. Regardless, construction cost is only a part, and probably a small part, of the total cost equation for a power plant. Initial construction cost of a NG fired power plant certainly is less than building Ivanpah, but $1000/kw increases to more than $2000/kw with carbon capture and storage which are not part of that cost vs zero carbon for Ivanpah; also NG must be purchased at inflationary market prices over the life of the system (50 years or so) vs virtually no input energy cost for Ivanpah; NG infrastructure must be available or built vs no such infrastructure for Ivanpah; both systems need transmission line infrastructure; operating/maintenance costs for NG boilers probably are substantially higher than keeping the mirrors clean at Ivanpah.

    The simple fact already is that wind and solar electric already is life-cycle competitive with all fossil fuel energy sources and likely will become far more competitive in the future.
    Dune and woodsmaster like this.
  14. Doug MacIVER

    Doug MacIVER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    se mass
    $$$$$$$ came from the reuters. the carbon costs will eventually be passed on which which falls right in eisenhower"s point. science claim that .04% of the atmosphere is the culprit. this and other stuff should always be watched. in the mean time a small fraction of the world saddles itself with costly stuff as we are doing under the this assumption. I like a lot of quality of life policies but as I've said ,but especially with this topic I think the gov't goes overboard in forcing it's hand. if there is 4 of a kind on the board does the gov't really have a straight flush or are they bluffing.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    Reuters is in error, think about it: $1000 per million watts = $0.001/watt! Nonsensical on its face. EIA reports about $1000/kw for NG, about $2000/kw for NG with carbon capture and storage, and about $5000/kw for solar thermal. Reuters error is a factor of 1000. My point doesn't change. Life cycle operating, maintenance, fuel purchase costs for NG are beat by solar thermal (and solar electric) now and more so in the future.

    Even at construction cost for NG of $1/watt ($1000/kw), the construction cost of my own solar voltaic system at $2500/kw beats NG all over the board: no fuel cost, near $0 maintenance/operating cost, equivalent life span.

    We have competitive solar alternatives to NG and other fossil fuels right now, they have just about none of the environmental/climate risk factors of fossil fuels, so we don't even need to argue over that. When 100 sq miles of sunny desert can supply all the electrical energy needs of the US (EIA), then the argument is over.
    woodgeek likes this.
  16. Doug MacIVER

    Doug MacIVER Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Messages:
    550
    Loc:
    se mass
  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
  18. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Loc:
    Allenton, Wisconsin
    Did anyone ever think of the 5.4 square miles ofland it takes up???? Ya could grow grass, cut it, and burn it in a furnace to make the electricity and come out ahead. ( I think) I think that is uglier than any wind mill farm. At least on windmill farms the deer and animals can go about and the farmers can still hay the fields right under the windmills. I don't think you can do anything with this land now.
  19. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,340
    Loc:
    Chittenden, VT
    Ivanpah is expected to generate ~1 trillion Whr per year. That's the equivalent of 3.4 trillion BTU per year assuming 100% efficiency. Let's see what that would be in terms of excellent firewood like osage orange with 33 million BTU per cord. That would equate to roughly 100,000 cord of osage orange burned. You can grow about 20 cords of wood per acre. With 3500 acres in 5.4 sq. miles we get 70,000 cords. Now please show me how you grow a full forest of osage orange every year on that lot and achieve 100% efficiency while burning it.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2014
  20. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,340
    Loc:
    Chittenden, VT
    Awesome, I will just take out a second mortgage of $250K to build a 250 MW natural gas power plant in my backyard. Where do I need to sign?
    Dune and woodgeek like this.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,727
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Actually it was this fellow, John Tyndall:

    [​IMG]

    had it all worked out using laboratory measurements on CO2....in 1860. :p
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
  22. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    This likely varies by species and location, but in our area a rough estimate is that 1 acre of land will sustainably produce about 1 cord per year.
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,727
    Loc:
    SE PA
    I think its a cool, at scale demonstration of concentrating solar power, CSP. PV is still going to eat its lunch, as it is cheaper (already at utility scale), more flexible (rooftops) and does better in locations with lots of partly cloudy weather (outside of the desert SW).

    Thermal storage to deliver juice at night is a nice feature, roughly doubles the cost per kWh, but cheaper than existing battery technology. In a high solar penetration ecotopic future, CSP may be the cheapest solar baseload. Until we get past 20% solar penetration, though, such storage doesn't pay. And in the future cheap batteries and EVs might undercut the need.

    Future viability will depend on operating/maintenance costs, which are TBD. We knew it would work on day 1. The experiment is to see how costly it is to keep it running.
  24. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,727
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Indeed. Photosynthesis is <1% efficient at turning solar energy into food or fuel calories. A solar plant gives 10-100x more energy per land area than a farm.
  25. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,436
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    One cord of seasoned red oak weighs about 3300 lbs and has about 6050 btu's/lb of available energy in a wood gasification boiler. 3300 x 6050 / 3414 = 5850 kwh of available energy content per year on a sustainable basis on one acre of land.

    My 6500 kwh solar system covers 400 square feet of land and has average annual production of 9000 kwh. One acre of land has 43,560 square feet, divided by 400 = 109 solar systems like mine, or 109 * 9000 = 981,000 kwh of energy, 168 times the energy potential of that same land growing trees.

    Looked at differently, 1 cord of css seasoned red oak sells for about $225 in my area. 981,000 kwh at the retail rate charged by my utility sells for $105,948.

    Another different look. 9000 kwh at my retail rate = $972 with $0 labor cost and 0 risk of physical energy or death from cutting down several trees and css for retail sale.

    And yet one more different look. My solar system cost $30,000 before any tax credits, incentives. For growing and processing wood: cost of one acre of land: $_____; equipment to process wood: chainsaw, chains, chaps, helmet, gloves, and boots: $_____; splitter: $_____; tractor/equipment to haul the wood out: $_____; value of time invested: $_____; replacement and maintenance costs: $_____; add your extras: $_____.

    Based on these numbers, one acre of land for solar electric produces 168x the usable energy per acre than using land to grow trees for energy.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
    woodgeek and Grisu like this.

Share This Page