View Full Version here: : Google invests in worlds largest solar tower plant
In light of some of the recent discussions on these forums regarding solar power, I thought this article (http://www.gizmag.com/google-invests-168-million-in-solar-power-tower/18383/) was interesting.
392 MW is approaching what a single nuclear reactor outputs. Granted the production is limited by sunlight availability, but yearly peak demand (in places that get hot) is on the hottest days, so having the ability to cater for this peak from solar power makes sense.
15-04-2011, 11:43 AM
That's great to hear....and I hope more companies like Google throw some money into getting projects like this up and running.
Although what we really need is more efficient photovoltaic cells as the amount of power you could get directly from the sunlight in an area that size is vastly larger than getting it from heating water to produce steam. Even at 40% efficiency, you're getting 8.6GW of electrical power...which is quite a bit of sparky stuff!!!.
this is good stuff. i wish I had some money to spend on investing in this sector. once this type of generation (or others) is proven, which it will be, google will probably just build some themselves and then reloacte all of the server farms next to them...
3600 acres is only about 15 square kilometres. and i imagine this is all for a fraction of the cost of a nuclear power plant.
anyway, let the flame war begin! :P
Reading up on the total investment, google put in $168M, NRG solar LLC put in $300M, and they obtained a $1.6B loan from the DOE, so total project costs looks about $2B.
This cost compares to $8.4B the US fed provided in loan guarantees to build two new 1150MW nuclear reactors in 2008.
Regarding cost effectiveness, I'm not sure of how much less the solar plants will cost to run compared to nuclear. Fuel is zero cost for solar, there is no waste to manage, but there will be maintainence.
15-04-2011, 02:37 PM
Looking at those figures, if you had 40% efficiency for your cells, not figuring in the maintenance costs, you would get 3.75 times the power for less than 1/4 the initial cost of building the plant as compared to two nuclear plants. Providing it costs about the same to build as the solar plant being proposed. I wonder what the cost of maintenance for a solar array of that size would be??. I would imagine it'd run to a few million dollars a year.
15-04-2011, 02:57 PM
and should an Earthquake or whatever hit the site, no-one dies from leaking 'Solar Radiation'!
Seriously, what harm to the population can come from Solar Power. None that I can think of at this time. Maybe severe burns from a reflector if they fall and reflect at you :shrug:
I am really intrigued as to why governments everywhere aren't building Solar Power Stations.
We don't have to excavate the fuel, there are no leakage fears, it is non-polluting, etc etc blah blah.
It's all been said a thousand times, so why isn't it happeneing.
It is, here in Ballarat on a small scale and working well. It's small but it's a start:
15-04-2011, 03:12 PM
That question is so easy to answer....money. There's trillions of dollars invested in the present practice mining and energy generating industries. Those that own and run these companies have huge resources of both money and power/influence. Who lines the pockets of most politicians and have large lobby groups talking to both governments and the regulators of these industries. Do you think they're going to give all that up, just so we can feel good about protecting the planet or actually do anything constructive towards that end??. The answer to that is "No".
Ultimately, they couldn't give a damn about everyone else or the planet for that matter. So long as they make their dollar and can tell everyone else what to do with themselves, they feel happy about it all. Upset that applecart and they go to town on whoever is causing the trouble for them.
This story which appeared on ABC a couple of days ago regarding Australian
Government funding to assist in the building of what is said to be the southern
hemisphere's largest solar power project may be of interest -
More information about this solar thermal power station, which is to built next
to a coal powered station near Chinchilla, Qld, can also be found in this story here -
Nice to see curved mirrors being used for non-observing purposes as well.
But in this instance it is still all about focusing the light from a nearby star.
15-04-2011, 03:46 PM
Just thought of a good use for the solar plants at night....mega-sized amateur telescopes!!!!:):P
15-04-2011, 03:47 PM
Unfortunately, Gary, that funding is few and far between and if you look at the effort made by most governments, it's really not enough.
At the next South Pacific Star Party, if attendees could all kindly point their
reflectors during the day time toward the water tower above the amenities
block, we could enjoy free hot showers and cook the Saturday spit roast at the same time.
Now that would be sweet!!! :lol:
15-04-2011, 04:00 PM
15-04-2011, 04:01 PM
Some of those heliostats are as big as Keck....can you imagine having a 10metre scope at your disposal!!!!:):P
15-04-2011, 06:08 PM
Good to see it is starting. Even if it is only in dribs and drabs, it's a start :thumbsup:
16-04-2011, 12:32 PM
Anyone know the "real" status of EnviroMission (http://www.enviromission.com.au/). They had a test plant in Spain and talk alot about building a commercial sized version of it, but nothing so far...
Beyond2000 video (Due to be removed on April 29, 2011, so watch or download it now...) : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3893254167410595527#
I'd never even heard of them before! Thanks for posting :)
According to this wiki page regarding solar chimney power (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower) they are focusing on the US market.
17-04-2011, 01:02 PM
Cheers for the link, great summary of the technology.
17-04-2011, 02:51 PM
Funding for solar cells is set to be cut, because barring some new law of physics combined with an as yet undiscovered SUPER efficient base material, passive solar power will never be more than 15-20% efficient.
I use never in the practical rather than literal sense.
I'll have to check the ABC National w'site, but it was some quite clever boffins who crunched the numbers based on current material science technology and theoretical physics.
Active solar makes far more sense - even on an overcast day you can generate heat & 'leccy at a rate sufficient to be useful to the grid's base-load (apparently).
I know lots of people in cities & burbs who feel all virtuous 'cuz they've ot a panel or two on their roof - but they are all still connected to the grid.
All you have to do is plug in a microwave, fridge or bar-heater and all that juice you spent the week saving will be gone in 10 minutes.
It IS very good for heating water, and every little bit helps I guess, but the cost of subsidizing the equipment for home power generation is out of all proportion to any measurable benefit.
If you're a Greenhouse-Tragic, you'd do far more to cut CO2 emissions by pumping up your tires, running your car on LPG and hanging heavy curtains on the windows.
Unless you live where there is no power. Then it makes sense. :)
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