Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Nov 01

Solar Power Towers coming to California

Posted in Energy Industry | Energy Politics | Solar Power

Solar Power Towers California The United States of America will now produce clear power that can light up as many as 11000 to 277500 homes in the country. The Sectary of Interior Ken Salazar has given a go ahead to the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating system, a project proposed by BrightSource of Oakland that can produce up to 370 megawatt of clear energy and generate nearly 1100 opportunities for employment. The project, located in San Bernardino Country, California, is the inaugural large-scale solar energy project on US public soil to use the power tower.

Key features of the project.

  • The project, which will be in three phases, will finish by the year 2013.
  • This know-how takes the help of mirror fields so that solar energy is pointed on the power tower receivers closer to every array. To generate electricity, Steam from the solar boilers in the towers is used to drive a turbine and electricity is produced.

How will it help the Administration.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating system will be one project that will be a win-win situation for both the administration and BrightSource.

  • This will give a boost to administration’s efforts for quick growth of production of renewable energy on public property on a large scale. Whereas the Sectary of Interior had given a green signal to first of such projects on October 5, with Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating system, this figure has reached to 3.
  • A day later, Salzar also signed a lease deal with Cape Wind to generate 468 megawatts of clean renewable electricity for Nantucket Sound Communities by purchasing a 130 turbine offshore wind farm.
  • This would be the first lease on the Outer Continental Shelf to develop commercial wind energy.
  • All these efforts will help USA to build a clean energy economy that could generate 1124 megawatts of clean energy to lit-up between 337000 and 843000 homes.
  • It will reduce carbon emission and help the nation as a whole by making USA independent in its energy needs and strengthen its national security.

How will it help BrightSource Energy.

  • The decision gives the power to Interior’s Bureau of Land management to give a site in the Southern California’s Mojave Desert, close to the Primm, Nevada border, to BrightSource so that they can use it for 30 years, provided they comply with all conditions including rent.
  • BrightSource will be eligible to recover 30 percent of their cost, which the energy developers can recover under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provided they have started the construction work before or in 2010. The U.S. department of Energy has also awarded them $ 1.37 billion in conditional loan guarantees as per the provisions of Recovery act.
  • The project Ivanpah is processed by Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission (CEC) cooperative model established by an October 12, 2009 agreement. It is based on an agreement between Secretary Salazar and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which tells the Interior and state agencies to take initiative to develop renewable energy in the land of California, which is best suited to the environment.

Environmental hazards And public accountability.

Keeping with the norms of the state- private partnership and the fact that it is working on harnessing alternative means of energy, BrightSource is required to make its share of contribution to protect the environment. BrightSource will be needed to acquire around 7300 mitigation acres. According to a plan of the US Fish and Wildlife services, which BrightSource has to follow, it has to test 3 million Desert Tortoise selected by Bureau of Land Management in California for diseases and then monitor them by locating them to a more suitable place. The company will also have to contribute to the joint compensation fund created by Federal and State agencies and operated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the negative effect it causes to various resources including water and wildlife.

As a part of its social duty, BrightSource has allowed its solar energy enhancing projects to go through various public scrutinies for environment hazards. These include:

  • Public scoping in 2007
  • Draft environment Impact Statement in 2009
  • Full public involvement in 2009
  • A supplement draft in 2010 before a final environment Impact Statement was prepared.

As noted by Salazar, important changes were made in the project. The size of BrightSource’s project was cut by 15%, from 4,073 acres down to 3,471 acres and the number of heliostats (solar mirrors) from 214,000 to 173,500 by the Bureau of Land Management after this scrutiny.

Reacting to these changes made in the project after public scrutiny, Salazar said, “Since it is essential that we learn from our past experiences to make certain that we wisely develop clean energy at the appropriate places, I am happy that changes have been made to improve the project.”

  • cjd

    Perhaps I missed it, but when these towers possibly go up all over the US, will this be on govt. land already in the possession of the govt.? Or will more land be confiscated in the ‘name of progress’. I truly hope this isn’t a shame.

  • AndrewW

    How much does it cost to clean the 350,000 mirrors? Is that in the budget?

    This is a stupid deal. Similar solar deals in Spain are now going bankrupt. Doesn’t the DOE have Google?

  • Paul

    If the gov really wanted good clean power they could have started back in 1975. this and an other thermal power tower were developed and prototyped way back then.

  • styke

    It isn’t the gov’t that wants clean power. It is the people. And things have changed in the last 35 years. The cost of fuel has risen, nuclear power faced increasing regulatory hurdles, and other forms of power just haven’t panned out.
    But, in the 80s, I remember seeing this kind of power plant on the road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Maybe that was a prototype, but it looked big to me.

    Cleaning the mirrors is a real problem. At night time, the mirrors will probably face down to avoid some of the dust, but they will still need regular cleaning. That can be done at night, but it will always be a problem. Most of the things they do to reduce that problem will upset someone. Personally, I favor high pressure air jet cleaning every few days, and traditional window washing style cleaning every couple months. Accept that there will be a ten percent loss due to dust accumulation.

  • AndrewW

    Paul: the problem is the technology. Both the CA Solar project and the CapeWIND project will cost $2 billion, but only produce about $300 million in electricity.

    Wind and solar need to become affordable if they are ever going to make a difference. These two projects are a complete waste of money. If I had my way I would offer prize money instead of wasting on these two projects that will make money for their developers, but never make enough electricity to make a difference. Reward innovation based on “results,” instead of rewarding developers.

  • Paul

    @styke, Someone has developed a glass that cleans itself. this was developed and first used for photovoltaic cell panels. so cleaning the mirrors won’t be a problem if they use this glass. but the other power tower I mentioned is even better. only one moving part, the turbine. It uses a temperature differential between the bottom of the tower and the top of the tower to drive the turbine. It was show cased in Popular Science or Mechanics Illustrated. I had subscriptions to both. It also uses area around the base to gather heat but in a passive manner. Also it generated power 24/7. The night time generation was only diminished about 25% of the day time. They had to go to Spain in order to build the prototype. The tower was 660 ft tall with a diameter of about 30 ft. this could have powered 75 houses. its been awhile since I’ve looked at the article so the power output could be off a bit.

  • Paul

    @AndrewW, You are right about the money and these projects. the other tower wouldn’t take near that amount of money and would produce a heck of a lot more electricity. the prize money idea is a great idea. that’s where innovation and real results are seen in real products not just money wasters.

  • Dave

    It’s my opinion that alternative energies will work as long as the public stays informed and “Big Corps” aren’t given all the Money and Land. If we haven’t learned anything about the oil economy we are all in trouble. The government needs to get this technologies to the individual not the “Fat Cats” that own our Government. These technologies will revive the United States, or US (as in we or our), failing economic situation just like the Personal Computer did 15 years ago. So do we share the wealth or does it go to one individual and Big Corp. Im just saying……

  • Suzee

    At the end of the day, we have to seriously plan for energy alternatives other than oil. Solar energy may be an expensive endeavor on the front side, but long term it will provide a cleaner and more cost efficient method to produce power and help sustain the earth’s environment.

  • AndrewW

    @Suzee: There is no evidence that Solar will improve dramatically over time – that’s just wishful thinking. Investment in solar schemes exceeds $50 billion in the last 20 years and it still isn’t a viable alternative. Enough, already.

    Instead of wasting money on marginal efforts, like wind and solar, we should be pursuing a SOLUTION – clean, affordable electricity. Solar is, at best, an expensive supplement.

  • Paul

    @ Andrew; photovoltaic cell production sale cost has come down from around $4/watt in 1998 to below $2/watt presently,2010. the efficiency has improved from 10% up to 15% in that time also. So your accusation that, “There is no evidence that Solar will improve dramatically over time – that’s just wishful thinking.”,
    is unjustifiable and totally false. you should do your due diligence before making claims that are not backed up by evidence. I personally worked for Evergreen Solar in 1997-1998, and have continued to maintain informed on their progress.
    Thank you, Paul

  • AndrewW

    @ Paul: You are correct, Solar has reduced productions costs to $2-3 Watt but it isn’t going to get much better than that. That’s the problem. Solar is NOT “clean, affordable electricity” and won’t be until coal and natural gas go up 300%. That isn’t going to happen either.

    Solar and Wind schemes will NOT solve our energy needs affordably. You either have to make current electricity rates 3X higher or find a breakthrough. I have more confidence in the possibility of a breakthrough. Solar and wind have shown us their best and it isn’t enough.

  • Paul

    Andrew, your point of view is of one who wants to use fossil fuels at any cost. regardless of the overall cost. the retail cost of fossil fuel is not the actual retail cost. all fossil fuel is subsidized all along the production trail. you cannot say that about photovoltaic. so if you were to remove all the subsidize from fossil fuel, it would in fact be, let’s say $10/gallon at the pump,this is a conservative estimate. That’s not counting the two thirds government tax that is currently on the price of crude oil and gasoline. and that is just talking about the money costs, never mind the pollution costs to the air, ground water and ocean water and sea life. Just think of all the KNOWN damage to the environment that British Petroleum caused in the Gulf of Mexico. No such damage with the production of any type of solar.
    I wish I could attach a pic that has all the Subsidies portrayed on it. I found part of it:
    http://modernevolution.com/post/2084297851/subsidize-this

  • Paul

    Here’s the full pic of “Subsidize This”:
    http://flowingdata.com/2010/12/17/right-versus-wrong-bubble-size/

  • AndrewW

    Paul, simply because I want the “breakthrough” of clean, affordable electricity doesn’t mean I “want fossil fuels at any cost.” That’s a childish suggestion and typical of solar and wind promoters.

    We need an economic solution to our energy needs. We are not going to punish fossil fuels to get there, we are going to find a solution. Pretending we’ve already found it is counterproductive.

    The DOE should offer a $1 billion prize for “clean, affordable electricity.” Government and industry have spent more than $400 billion on solar and wind schemes for the last 20 years and they are not a solution – they’re an expensive supplement.

    We should offer the prize and use what has always lead to successful innovation: competition and reward. That’s what built America.

  • Layne

    Ultimately, all energy sources are nuclear and can be traced to the Sun. Nuclear is still, even after the events in Japan, the only feasible way to reduce or end dependence on oil, natural gas and coal. Most innovation efforts should focus on how to make nuclear power no less than 100% safe–simply because it’s essential to develop a replacement for fossil fuels ASAP, or we will be looking at something verging on world war. Concurrently with that, there needs to be a revolution in minimizing energy and oil usage, which would include a return to walkable cities, a vast move away from petro-agriculture, use of plastics/synthetics, and a rebuilding of the passenger rail system.

  • Helana Hems

    tanner mainstain ensuring that equity shares are transferrable at value when a memberships are terminated for whatever reason. These are also called value-added cooperatives or new wave cooperatives.


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