Ready for a bit of sun-shiney, uplifting, warm and cuddly renewable power history, gentle readers? I first wrote about the “troubled” Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave desert in December of 2011 in The Brave New World Of Dr. Chu, Reprised.
But wait a minute, the Obama Administration isn’t authorizing any nuclear plants, they’re destroying the coal industry (Mr. Obama and Mr. Chu are on record hoping to do just that), which is the industry that powers most of our electric generating plants, and even solar and wind projects are being delayed by federal bureaucrats and failing that, shut down by environmentalist lawsuits. Hydro-electric facilities, as the British would say, are right out. Even a substantial solar project in the Mojave Desert has been stymied by environmentalists. Something about the project potentially annoying various local reptiles, I believe. But even if it is eventually constructed, it will produce only a tiny amount of electricity, and only when the sun shines. Our electric grid and power generating capability is aging and we’re not building any new plants.
I next took up the heated gauntlet in February of 2014’s Frying Through The Air, wherein I wrote about the fact that Ivanpah was quick frying tens of thousands of birds, second only, perhaps to Kentucky Fried Chicken. An excerpt:
Well of course! Who could possibly have foreseen that birds flying though massive beams of 1000° heat might be harmed? Obviously the same is true of those technological, public policy, political geniuses that could not possibly foresee massive wind farms as what they actually are: avian Cuisinarts.
Perhaps Mr. Obama can sell his quick-frying method to Kentucky Fried Chicken? And I’m sure KFC can branch out into more exotic fare, provided courtesy of Barack Obama, NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy Inc. Heck, all those birds are just layin’ around the plant, pre-cooked. That way the taxpayers might get some benefit from this latest energy boondoggle.
I followed that in October of 2015 with The Solar Power Miracle (Debacle?)! To wit:
Readers, I’m sure, recall the never-ending controversy over the Ivanpah plant in the Mojave Desert, from displacing endangered species to threatening to crash commercial and private aircraft due to blinding glare, to massive cost overruns and energy production deficits, it has failed to live up to its utopian promise.
We also learned that the plant has been using natural gas rather than sunlight to produce electricity from the very beginning:
Oh, so the natural gas is for practicality and safety, is it? Not quite. It’s the only way for the plant to produce electricity when the sun isn’t shining, which is at least half of each day, and when there is significant cloud cover, which is annoyingly often as well. That doesn’t seem to be what was promised for the plant and similar installations.
Most recently, in March of 2016, I wrote Used Solar Plant For Sale, Cheap! In that article I revealed that the Ivanpah plant only exists because of a $1.6 billion dollar Obama loan guarantee, and may have to shut down because it produces only a fraction of it’s promised electricity–even when it’s running on natural gas, which is most of the time–and its solar generation costs six times as much as a natural gas plant.
But now, we have a new milestone–millstone?–in the history of green energy: the plant managed to set itself on fire:
A small fire shut down a generating tower Thursday at the world’s largest solar power plant, leaving the sprawling facility on the California-Nevada border operating at only a third of its capacity, authorities said.
Firefighters had to climb some 300 feet up a boiler tower at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California after fire was reported on an upper level around 9:30 a.m., fire officials said.” [skip]
But some misaligned mirrors instead focused sunbeams on a different level of Unit 3, causing electrical cables to catch fire, San Bernardino County, California fire Capt. Mike McClintock said.
David Knox, spokesman for plant operator NRG Energy, said it was too early to comment on the cause, which was under investigation.
Uh, didn’t McClintock already explain the cause? After all, firemen don’t put out fires that don’t exist, and they tend to know where the fires were after they put them out, because they’re kind of, you know, attracted, to the fires in the first place, which have to exist, you know, at a particular, um, place…
Knox said the tower was offline while crews assess the damage. He could not immediately say when it would restart.
The plant can produce enough power for 140,000 California homes, but a second tower is shut down for maintenance, leaving only one running.
It was not immediately clear what impact that would have on California’s electricity supply.
Uh, right. They don’t know the cause, and they don’t know what impact it will have. I do: less electricity. If one of the sources of electricity for a given area isn’t producing electricity, there is less electricity. You’re welcome Mr. Knox; no charge.
The $2.2 billion complex has nearly 350,000 computer controlled mirrors — each roughly the size of a garage door — that sprawl over roughly five square miles of desert.
One would think–at least greenies would like us to think–that a five square mile solar plant, in the middle of a desert, would be able to produce quite a bit of electricity via solar power, and do so without killing every bird in the area, threatening to down aircraft, or setting itself on fire, but nooooooooooo!
Another brilliant accomplishment of the Obamites and renewable energy. What accomplishment? Making electricity? No. Burning money–in huge quantities.
1000’s of individually controlled mirrors shining high intensity sunlight on a single central tower. What could possibly go wrong? Think of the 4th generation nuclear plant we could have built with that money. Oh wait, we don’t have a 4th generation design because after 3 mile island, too many sensitive people in this country are scared of nuclear power. Number of nuclear related deaths in this country from nuclear power plants? Zero.
The killing of hawks and other birds has been known for sometime, but was not too publicized as with the windmills doing the same thing. The windmills have high maintenance costs thus reportedly roughly 14,000 have been abandoned. And who paid for them. I tested clean coal plants what burned 30% waste coal; the 30% from those black mountains in eastern PA. That removed the sulfur found in the waste coal that was running into streams making them acidic. But the environmentalists concentrated only on the use of coal and the CO2 released in the burning of the coal.
Paraphrasing Instapundit, I’ll worry about CO2 when the environmentalists stop using electricity and the electronics they recharge from the grid.
First the birds simply flying past were cooked, then the wiring of the tower itself. What’s next, the firefighters climbing the tower? I think I’d demand extra hazard pay to have that in my area of responsibility.
I would hated to be those firefighters climbing 300 feet in full bunker gear, dragging gear and hoses.