Solar Power And Inverted Logic

From the inverted logic department comes this rather curious devolpment involving the recently commissioned and operating Ivanpah Solar Power station.

Ivanpah_Solar_Power_Facility_Online
The brilliance of the sun can be seen focused on one of the three CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) towers of the Ivanpah Solar Power station, located in California’s Mojave Desert

In a bizarre and ongoing case of inverted logic and serving as another example of just how inane and vacuous some individuals can be when it comes to the importance of alternative energy, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) threatened to shut down the recently commissioned and operating Ivanpah Solar-thermal power stations because they were “unable to meet current production targets of 448,000 MWh annually“. Located in California’s Mojave desert, Ivanpah is the largest CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) station in the world and only came online in November of 2014. That such a draconian remedy was suggested for what amounts to a minor detail, for a plant that has scarcely been online a year, speaks to the scope and breadth of the problem. This detail was put in place no doubt by attorneys and politicians who don’t understand science and technology and who are indifferent to the outcome of their remedies or decisions.

CPUC’s logic: “No power [from Ivanpah] is better than most of the 390 MW.

In response to a June 12, 2015 piece in the WSJ regarding CPUC’s concerns, Ivanpah’s operator quite succinctly put the benefits in perspective as well as pointing out inaccuracies and omissions in the original story. It should be noted here that the 12 June, 2015 piece was just one of several stories on Ivanpah the paper has published, all in a diminutive light. In her March 16th, 2016 piece, the author closes the story with this rather unnecessary and irrelevant comment

To be sure, birds also fall prey to other renewable-energy projects: Wind turbines kill between 140,000 and 328,000 birds in the U.S. every year, according to a 2013 study by researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

The WSJ’s bias against anything that isn’t linked to Big Oil and Big Coal, not surprisingly, is quite obvious. If one follows their logic, they would delight in the demise of Ivanpah and would rather see it scuttled completely, generating no power rather than some (“some” here is measured in the mega (millions of) watts range). The question begs asking

Why would you shut down a brand-new, functioning, multi-billion-dollar plant funded, in part, by grants from the DOE, that hasn’t even been operating a year, with such promise as a new technology and at such a cost in labor and sweat, without redress?

Another objection (from the science illiteracy department) is that the facility has been using its Natural Gas backup – at night and during periods of cloud cover! Question: why does a solar plant need a fossil-fuel backup? Easy Answer (surprise, surprise!): To maintain a consistent, dependable power flow. That [legal] requirement is (should be) outside the scope of any generating facility’s mandate, where certain significant variabilities (like cloud cover or lack of generating ability at night for a solar plant!) are outside the operator’s scope of control. I have to believe that this last point was evident to all involved, even the attornies and politicians. Ivanpah is using a relatively new energy storage technology where the sun’s energy is stored in form of molten salt. The facility can continue to provide energy for at least 5 hours after sunset by extracting the heat from the hot, molten salt to drive the turbines – at night! The good news is that the CPUC has given Ivanpah a temporary stay of execution since the operators, having learned the new technology and how to fine-tune it, have significantly increased the plant’s output to within 98% of its rated capacity! In all likelihood, it will continue providing clean, carbon-free energy for decades to come.

Related article: Carbon Emissions Highest Since Demise of Dinosaurs

Imagination is more important than knowledge 585px-Albert_Einstein_signature_1934(invert)
An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.

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