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Tue Feb 10, 2015, 06:54 AM

Huge solar farm opens in California: Enough energy for 160,000 homes

Source: LA Times

About 4,000 acres of shiny black solar panels stretch across Riverside County near Joshua Tree National Park, where on Monday U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell dedicated one of the largest photovoltaic solar energy farms in the world.

“This is the beginning of a renewable energy future,” Jewell said before helping turn on a large model light switch.

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, a 550-megawatt farm that is the largest on public lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, began operating in December 2014 and will provide enough energy to power more than 160,000 average California homes annually, said Georges Antoun, chief operating officer of the farm’s Tempe, Ariz.-based developer First Solar Inc.

Desert Sunlight opens at time of uncertainty for future utility-scale solar development in California, which has been slowing in recent years as federal assistance begins to disappear and investor interest fades.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-solar-farm-20150209-story.html

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Reply Huge solar farm opens in California: Enough energy for 160,000 homes (Original post)
n2doc Feb 2015 OP
livetohike Feb 2015 #1
damyank913 Feb 2015 #2
mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2015 #17
FBaggins Feb 2015 #27
dbackjon Feb 2015 #30
FBaggins Feb 2015 #33
Drahthaardogs Feb 2015 #35
Kaleva Feb 2015 #38
closeupready Feb 2015 #39
TimeToEvolve Feb 2015 #3
jtuck004 Feb 2015 #8
mountain grammy Feb 2015 #9
eggplant Feb 2015 #12
damyank913 Feb 2015 #16
eggplant Feb 2015 #18
brush Feb 2015 #29
Xithras Feb 2015 #22
yellowcanine Feb 2015 #26
dbackjon Feb 2015 #31
Nihil Feb 2015 #34
titaniumsalute Feb 2015 #24
FBaggins Feb 2015 #28
titaniumsalute Feb 2015 #36
Trillo Feb 2015 #4
The2ndWheel Feb 2015 #19
Trillo Feb 2015 #21
Overseas Feb 2015 #5
lonestarnot Feb 2015 #6
valerief Feb 2015 #7
truthisfreedom Feb 2015 #13
hunter Feb 2015 #10
The2ndWheel Feb 2015 #15
hunter Feb 2015 #20
dbackjon Feb 2015 #32
onehandle Feb 2015 #11
SunSeeker Feb 2015 #14
vkkv Feb 2015 #23
mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2015 #25
FBaggins Feb 2015 #37

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 07:07 AM

1. Great news!! Thanks for posting this n/t

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 07:20 AM

2. 4000 ACRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...for 160000 homes. Although I applaud the effort, it seems like a huge waste of space. I wonder how much space a solar powered steam generator plant would occupy.

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Response to damyank913 (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:06 AM

17. Please take a look at Desert Center, California, on Google maps.

That's where this place is. Ask yourself what else could be built there.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #17)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 01:48 PM

27. Does something HAVE to be built everywhere?

We could just leave it alone.

Not all types of solar power are created equal. Though I suspect that I would support this project, It's still reasonable to consider the amount of land that is taken up compared to other generation options.

It's also perfectly reasonable that it won't come close to powering 160k homes.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #27)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 02:29 PM

30. Exactly. the Desert has an ecosystem and beauty all it's own

 

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Response to dbackjon (Reply #30)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 02:39 PM

33. True enough... though as I said, I would likely support the plant

There's too much to be said for:

Economies of scale
Economic advantages of utility-controlled solar over meters that run backwards at costs higher than their true value
Panels that don't have to be removed/reinstalled when the roof shingles wear out (and now there are holes in the roof decking).

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #17)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 10:26 AM

35. That is A LOT of land --six sections.

It may be the perfect place for it, but whatever the technology used is not very efficient it would seem.

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Response to damyank913 (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 12:39 PM

38. Edwards Air Force Base alone takes up 308,000 acres.

Camp Pendleton takes up another 125,000 acres.

Fort Hunter Liggett sits on 167,000 acres.

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Response to damyank913 (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 12:56 PM

39. Not that much land at all, IMO.

 

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 07:42 AM

3. 4000 acres could be saved if those solar panels were mounted on rooftops rather than on the ground

the real solution would be large tax breaks or other government incentives to ease the cost of rooftop solar for residential use.

but that will never happen on account of an obstructionist house and senate.. thanks teabillies.

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Response to TimeToEvolve (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:43 AM

8. Think of the future possibilities, when they hire people to build houses under them. n/t

 

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Response to TimeToEvolve (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:48 AM

9. Now you're talking..

While this is good news, the best news is individual solar and wind energy with the government paving the way for people power.

We can have efficient green energy or we can have Republicans. We can't have both.

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Response to TimeToEvolve (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:57 AM

12. Um, you do realize they are in the middle of a desert, right?

It's not like we were doing anything with that land before then.

They are certainly easier to manage in bulk, and they themselves don't prevent anyone from putting rooftop PV panels up.

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Response to eggplant (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:01 AM

16. I understand what you're saying.

It's unused land. I guess my take on this is that this is not really innovation. Engineers have known for years that, given enough land, they could assemble a field of these panels and get enough power to compare with a small nuclear reactor. I'm just not convinced that this is the best use of public funding. This feels like (strictly conjecture on my part) some entrepreneur saw an opportunity and cashed in without actually developing anything new. Desert land is cheap. What happens next? 8000 acres? 12000 acres?

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Response to damyank913 (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:27 AM

18. What's next is not having to burn fuels to generate half a gigawatt.

I wouldn't draw any further conclusions than that, particularly since (as the article says) the federal subsidies for this sort of thing run out next year.

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Response to damyank913 (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 02:14 PM

29. I live in Las Vegas and travel by this area whenever I go to LA.

It's a vast area of desert miles from any other development.

IMO it's a good use of the land for now and yes, why not 8000 or 12000 acres? As my wife and I would drive from Vegas to LA with the sun blazing down, we would marvel at all the empty land and think of all the solar energy that was being wasted because no solar fields had been developed.

Now this pilot one is there and I say Bravo!

I hope it gets the ball rolling with more alternative energy development. You mentioned solar-powered steam generators. Great! I say try that too.

Much of the Southwest — Arizona, Nevada, SoCal, New Mexico, West Texas — can do the same thing. Las Vegas also has geothermal and wind energy possibilities. We moved to Vegas from New York and were surprised at how much wind regularly blows in Vegas.

On the coasts wave energy needs looking at, as does oil derived from algae — good quality, renewable light crude — who knew?

I say we need to develop these and see what works best, maybe all of them as solar is of course only during the day (better power storage batteries are needed), but while these sources are being developed I say continue building these fields until the land is needed and/or more efficient energy sources are available.

I mean really, you drive through hours and hours of empty land with the sun pouring down and being wasted. Solar panels should also be built on rooftops and I've heard solar panels for parking lots are also being developed.

Seems we got inertia going with this solar plant, once we get the other renewable sources working, these plants in the desert can be taken up if need be as they are brick and mortar structures.

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Response to eggplant (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 12:36 PM

22. You realize that deserts aren't sterile, right?

That land was home to a number of endangered species, and was part of a protected desert ecosystem. Many environmentalists would take serious issue with your claim that we weren't "doing anything with the land before then". "Development" is the antithesis of "sustainability". And why did we destroy that increasingly rare and unspoiled desert habitat? Because humans decided that they wanted to feel good about their environmental destruction. Morally, ethically, and (most importantly) environmentally, there is NO difference between destroying one fragile habitat to frack for oil beneath it, and destroying another fragile habitat to build a solar array across the top of it. Both destroy the environment they are built on. The desert ecosystem is just as beautiful, just as valuable, and just as worthy of protection as northern Alaska, or any forest in any mountain range, or any seaside marshland.

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Response to eggplant (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 01:45 PM

26. Um, you do realize that deserts are ecosystems also, right?

Just because we are "not doing anything" with land doesn't mean it has to have something done with it. We aren't doing anything with the Arctic Wildlife Reserve either so I guess it is okay to fill it with oil drilling rigs, right?

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Response to eggplant (Reply #12)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 02:31 PM

31. Other than preserving it for plants, animals, etc

 

so only environments that you think are pretty are worth saving?

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Response to eggplant (Reply #12)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 08:22 AM

34. "It's not like we were doing anything with that land before then."

 

And there we have the corporate exploit-everything-we-can-see mindset in a nutshell.

"If it's there, let's make money out of it"


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Response to TimeToEvolve (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 01:23 PM

24. How many acres do Nuclear Power Plants take up including the waste materials?

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Response to titaniumsalute (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 01:54 PM

28. A very VERY tiny proportion of that amount.

4,000 acres is close to all of the space required for the entire nuclear fleet and all waste storage.

That's before we even point out that this one solar plant... while large for a solar plant... is tiny in output compared to a single reactor.

To be fair... reactors tend to be surrounded with lots of untouched land for security. So if you count that the difference isn't as many orders of magnitude... but still quite large

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #28)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 10:31 AM

36. True. Most probably aren't more than 1,000 acres.

I guess what I was thinking that if there was one accident however thousands of acres would be unusable for decades.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 08:51 AM

4. Great News!

It's so seldom that there's good news on DU.

It's too bad that some people who are all for oil and more oil don't believe in saving the earth for future generations.

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Response to Trillo (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:39 AM

19. Why do you think this would save the Earth?

Pollution is a limiting factor. If we have too much of it, people, in some form or fashion, will start not doing things.

If we find a way to potentially give ourselves access to unlimited energy, we're going to carve the planet up more than we already have. We've defined that energy as clean and green. What would stand in the way?

I doubt it saves the Earth. We'll just have different problems to deal with.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #19)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 12:25 PM

21. Renewable energy.

I understand what you are saying, about unintended consequences of unlimited energy. There are a lot of other factors as well. There's a general consciousness that the world is overpopulated, and I don't think that will be fixed merely by having unlimited energy, and I'm not sure that's on the horizon, the electricity will still be sold to people who can't afford much of it. Also, there's no longer any place on earth where refuge can be found from the prying eyes of unreasonable authoritarians and psychopathic authoritarians, both of which are exacerbated by overpopulation. In all of our past history, there have always been places one could escape to to avoid being continuously watched. People have been artificially crammed by the economic system into living in vastly overpopulated cities. I don't think that's going to change very fast, it is economic and perhaps generational.

I find another aspect of your argument curious, it is an implication. That implication is that the 0.01% have been making our lives intentionally difficult, and have been intentionally giving us dirty forms of energy, oil, and nuclear, for the reasons you supplied, as if their insatiable greed wasn't the primary motive. As a teenager growing up in the 1970s, I remember reading about our great clean energy future, which would be solar powered. It's now 40+ years later, and we're barely beginning to realize that. It is sobering to realize that not only was the 0.01% greedy as all get out, but that they also intentionally wanted us individually polluted and feeling bad most of the time, while telling us we had an "inalienable right to pursue happiness."

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:12 AM

5. K&R. Glad to hear it.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:39 AM

6. Meanwhile over here in sun town, Salt River Project trying to kill solar industry.

 

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:42 AM

7. But what about all those solar earthquakes? And won't those panels kill the birds?

Not to mention all the solar pollution it'll produce.

And who owns the sun? Who will we have to go to war for it?

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Response to valerief (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 10:22 AM

13. We are ignoring the elephant here! We can't afford

to use up the sun like this!

sarcasm thingie

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:56 AM

10. I'm an environmentalist, I support solar power. but these big desert plants are despicable.

Our deserts are not wastelands, they are beautiful, complex, and delicate ecosystems.

Automobile parking lots, the roofs of big box stores and suburban sprawl, land that's been destroyed by misguided high intensity agriculture in inappropriate places... those are true environmental wastelands, and that's where solar ought to be installed.

With electric cars now, parking lot solar makes a huge amount of sense, charging the cars with sunlight, and shading the cars where they are parked.

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Response to hunter (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:01 AM

15. But the deserts belong to all life

Not just us.

I know you know that, but the way it sounds when you use the word our allows for things like "It's not like we were doing anything with that land before then", to be said by someone up thread.

Just one of the mindsets that is difficult to not have. We always say that the people own the land, or the airwaves, or whatever, in relation to private corporate interests. When it comes to other life on the planet though, we don't think that way. We are 100% about privatization. We are the corporation. It is our desert. It is our river to dam. It is our tree to cut down to build our road to drive our car because we have to travel at a speed that we can't physically do ourselves. It is our whatever.

Not that we really can think any other way. When push comes to shove, the short term and our own individual self interest are going to win out. That's just how life works.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 11:58 AM

20. That's a very good point. Human language has a huge influence on human thought patterns.

I have learned that when I say a creosote bush or a desert tortoise have as much right to their living space as I do mine, many people tend to freak out.

The "our" of our collective humanity can still be understood in terms of "our" state and federal lands, etc. Like all language, it's a shortcut, and like all language it carries baggage, some of it quite toxic.

My personal perspective, as someone with a strong background in geology and evolutionary biology who frequently imagines what the earth might be like a hundred thousand or million years from now, this long perspective frequently disturbs two sorts of people: those who would say, "Well, then, what does it matter if we trash the place since we are all doomed?" and those who sincerely believe we humans have some special place in the universe, favored by some god, or otherwise "destined" to spread across the universe in magnificent starships.

Humans are not the center of my universe except as my kin. Some of our relatives are very dear people, some of our relatives are mean rotten people, and there are many non-humans I choose to regard as my kin too.

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Response to hunter (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 02:32 PM

32. Bingo

 

Lots of areas that could be covered in solar panels as mentioned, that wouldn't destroy the desert

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 09:57 AM

11. Tyranny! nt

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 10:53 AM

14. K & R

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 12:56 PM

23. My math shows 4000 divided by 160,000 = .025 x 40 = 1 acre ( 1/40th of an acre per home) or..

 


1089 sq ft of paneling per home..

The average roof top ought to cover that!


Need some decent batteries though..

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Response to vkkv (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 10, 2015, 01:44 PM

25. It might not scale directly, though, due to economies of scale.

I don't know. I'm just raising a (possible) point.

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Response to vkkv (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 11, 2015, 12:06 PM

37. Your math necessarily assumes that the 160k figure is accurate

It isn't.

It would take quite a bit more capacity to actually meet overall electrical deman from that many houses.

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