The cost of solar power

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alt.energy still has a long way to go - excellent article comparing a new solar power plant v/s a conventional natural gas turbine plant.

From Philip Dowd writing at Anthony's:

A Solar Power Plant vs. A Natural Gas Power Plant: Capital Cost – Apples to Apples
Here is a simple example that illustrates why current solar technology will be hard-pressed to replace existing carbon-fired power plants.

Let’s suppose that a power company is planning to scrap a coal-fired power plant and wants to replace it with a new plant. Furthermore, let’s assume that the old plant to be scrapped is in Arizona. The options for the new plant are natural gas and solar. The company wants a simple, ball-park analysis of the front-end cost to build each of these options.

The requirements:

1. Electricity demand on this facility is 4,800 MWh/day, about the demand for a community of 160,000 average households[i]

2. The “up time” of both plants must be equal. That is, both must be equally reliable and produce the demand for the same fraction of time over the course of one year.

Assumptions:

1. The solar plant will consist of a Photovoltaic (PV) panel and a battery. The PV panel will generate enough electricity during the day to produce the necessary output and charge the battery. The battery will generate the necessary output at night.

2. Night time demand equals day time demand.

3. The new plant will be built in Arizona, a good spot for a solar plant

Philip does a thorough analysis and the upshot is that the gas plant will cost $200 Million to build and the solar plant will cost $2,740 Million to build. And people wonder why only a small percentage of our electrical generation is from alt.energy - less than 2% in the USA despite the billions of our tax dollars spent on subsidies. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are the way to go - conventional nukes are based on designs and technologies that are 60+ years old. There have been some wonderful innovations - we need to start using them for our baseline generating capacity and stop playing around with stupid crap like solar and wind.

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