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Government Power United States

Large Scale 24/7 Solar Power Plant To Be Built in Nevada 475

RayTomes writes "The Obama administration has provided a loan guarantee of $737 million to construct the first large-scale solar power plant that stores energy and provides electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." This solar power project, a heliostat rather than a photovoltaic system, with a molten salt system to store power as heat for times when the sun isn't shining, will be constructed in Nevada and, says the article, is expected to create "600 construction jobs and 45 permanent positions."
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Large Scale 24/7 Solar Power Plant To Be Built in Nevada

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  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:28AM (#36227734) Homepage

    So is a metal spoon.

    It all depends on context.

  • by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:34AM (#36227806) Homepage

    Nevada will have no problem selling power to California. In state power generation is not always consumed in state, intrastate power transmission is very common.

  • by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:48AM (#36228008) Homepage

    It's a loan guarantee, meaning we cosigned with the bank for them. The taxpayers are only out if this thing can not pay back it's loan.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @11:19AM (#36228366) Journal

    What planet are you from? 80%? Complete fiction. Vermont Yankee is very reliable, and had, from 2003-2009, an amazing 92.6% capacity factor. Which gives an employee/Mwatt ratio closer to 1.09, which while still slightly higher than the solar plant, isn't particularly bad.

    The source for my claim [] is an open letter from an Entergy executive, being mirrored at the website of Meredith Angwin, who runs the Yes, Vermont Yankee blog.

    For more actual *facts* about VY reliability, see this posting [] at Yes, VY.

    In general, nuclear power plants in the U.S. have had an *industry average* of over 90%. That's not a cherry picked record for an individual plant - that's the *average* capacity factor. There are certainly some things to be worried about Nuclear plants, in terms of risks and costs, but reliability just isn't one of them. Let's stick to real problems, instead of making up fake ones.

    As for number of employees per MW at nuclear plants, there is probably room for improvement there, with newer designs. However, I don't see that 650 employees for 620MW seems like a particularly *bad* ratio. As mentioned above, it's less than 1.09 empl./MW, so it's in the same general ballpark as the solar plant.

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @11:40AM (#36228610)

    You seem to have thought this out a lot though your point 4 I'd challenge.
    Professors can be wrong sometimes or simply misleading.

    16% of the worlds energy already comes from nuclear.

    There is apparently a 230-year estimate supply extractable at today's consumption rate with current technologyat current market prices at current rates of use. []

    36.8 years if tomorrow every single plant was replaced with nuclear if you don't use breeder reactors.

    With breeder reactors you could multiply that by something like 50-100
    Long enough that it's not a significant worry.

    Current market prices is also important: if you increase the price, say double it, then that dramatically increases while not significantly increasing the price of running a nuclear plant as the fuel is very cheap compared to building the reactor.

    Now there's claims that it is possible to extract uranium from seawater for about 5 or 6 times the current market price which effectively sets an upper limit on the price of uranium and would supply it forever but I'll wait till I see any kind of large scale operation.

    point 2 is valid though it's also true of most industry, hazardous waste can be a serious long term issue even if it's not radioactive, it just doesn't get the same media attention.

    point 3 is the most significant one for much of the human race and extremely valid.

  • To Clarify (Score:4, Informative)

    by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @12:00PM (#36228890) Homepage Journal

    First, the $737M loan is not from the government, it's from private investors. The Feds are just insuring the debt. They will only pay out if the project fails.

    Second, yes, $737M/75,000 houses is $9826. Assuming the facility lasts for 15 years (which seems exceptionally short), it would take $54 per month per household to pay off the principal. No feedstock to purchase, but the article mentions 60 jobs and likely some materials for maintenance. so if you figure it has a $5M-10M annual opperating budget (assuming staffing costs average 40-80k per head and having money for maintenance) you'd have to add on another $5-11 to the customers' monthly bill.

    So yeah, $737M sounds like a lot, but it means the median power bill can be right around $100/month for 75k consumers, and it'll be turning a nice profit.

    My local power is primarily coal with a smidge of wind, and I pay roughly $100 per MWh (last bill was ~$65 for ~700KWh). So this really doesn't seem to out of the realm of possible. Especially if they keep opperating costs low.


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