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Google Power Technology

Google Invests In World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-plenty-of-sun dept.
cylonlover writes "Google has chipped in a US$168 million investment in what will be the world's largest solar power tower plant. To be located on 3,600 acres of land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will boast 173,000 heliostats that will concentrate the sun's rays onto a solar tower standing approximately 450 feet (137 m) tall. The plant commenced construction in October 2010 and is expected to generate 392 MW of solar energy following its projected completion in 2013."
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Google Invests In World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant

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  • Drop in the bucket (Score:5, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:33PM (#35811254)

    $168 million sounds like a serious investment, until you consider that this thing is projected to cost $1.37 *billion*.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:35PM (#35811290)
    A quick google came up with this [audubon.org] (PDF warning)
  • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:38PM (#35811316)

    Bats [google.com] have it worse than birds, for some reason that's still not understood. Since bats are one of the most important insect predators, this means more pesticides are needed to protect crops.

  • by defunctpassword (2032272) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @03:42PM (#35811368)
    They had a setup like this out at Thermo California a few years back. You could see the heat exchanger glowing like a mini sun on top of the tower. I doubt many birds will get close to it.
  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:07PM (#35811640) Homepage

    No, it's going to collect a lot more than 392MW of solar power, if wants to put out 392MW of electrical power.

  • Re:Why so tall? (Score:4, Informative)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:10PM (#35811672) Homepage
    It's so tall so they can use more mirrors and get more juice out of it. If it was at ground level, maybe a single ring of mirrors could direct light at it. If it's at 20', maybe two or three rings. When it's way up in the sky, you can get many rings of mirrors with a direct line of sight to the target.
  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @04:56PM (#35812158) Homepage

    Oh, God -- got to love an article that starts out talking about wind power by bringing up Altamont Pass. Altamont Pass was a *1970s* wind farm. It was built with very little study (unlike today's requirements), and if you wanted to design a rapor cuisinart, that would be the way you would do it. They built it in the middle of a raptor flyway with low turbines with fast-spinning blades and a tower structure that encouraged birds to try to land on them. Comparing Altamont Pass to modern wind farms is just absurd. Despite them generating a tiny fraction of our wind power, Altamont and a couple other old farms cause over 80% of wind-related raptor deaths.

    Then they bring up the American Bird Conservatory. The American Bird Conservatory, like the Audubon Society, supports wind power [abcbirds.org] when it's designed with birds in mind. The very paper that ABC cites for their numbers ("A Summary and Comparison of Bird Mortality from Anthropogenic Causes with an Emphasis on Collisions") states "The high level of mortality associated with the Altamont wind plant has not been documented at newer wind plants constructed at other sites." The paper's conclusions are amazingly *supportive* of wind turbines (noting, for example, that wind turbines average 1.5 bird fatalities per year, while communication towers average 8.1). They come up with a figure of 3.04 bird fatalities per MW per year for wind power. They estimate that wind power killed 20-37k birds per year as of the 6.4GW installed capacity as of 2003 (compared to the 500M-1B birds killed by anthropogenic causes alone). ABC's "1 million birds" number is nowhere in the first paper that they cite [abcbirds.org]. One can only conclude that they did some crazy extrapolation which was heavily biased by Altamont and other early wind farms which did not consider birds in their designs and used older, fast-turning blades. They also mention another paper by FWS, but fail to give a proper reference to it; I searched the FWS's site and can find nothing to back it up.

    That whole WSJ article is based on a big lie -- that only wind power gets an exemption from bird kills. In the US, cars kill 60-80m birds per year, with more from planes and trains. 100m to 1b birds in the US per year die from window strikes. The number for US high tension lines is roughly 130m. For communication towers, the estimate is 4-5m (and rapidly growing). 67m are estimated to die from pesticides. And on and on. How many of these death sources do you think are getting sued?

  • by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @05:03PM (#35812258)

    I have no patience for people crying about largely ephemeral bird impacts from wind or solar power, but aren't bothered at all by the much bigger and well documented bird killer: cars.

    Change one letter and you get an even worse threat: cats. From the New York Times [nytimes.com], quoting the relevant section because of the paywall:

    The American Bird Conservancy estimates that up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats — about half by pets and half by feral felines. ... By contrast, 440,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, although that number is expected to exceed one million by 2030 as the number of wind farms grows to meet increased demand.

    So, if you're opposed to solar and wind power because of your concern over birds, you'd better not be someone who lets your cat go outside.

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