NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAWAII'S UTILITIES PLAN FOR 67% RENEWABLES BY 2030
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: CAN WARREN BUFFETT'S PACIFICORP BRING THE NORTHWEST'S RENEWABLE RICHES TO MARKET?
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A UTILITY IN THE MAKING: THE MUNICIPALIZATION OF BOULDER, COLORADO
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NATIONAL HIGH VOLTAGE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM?
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE STATE OF THE U.S. WIND INDUSTRY (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR UTILITIES)
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAS APS INVENTED A ROOFTOP SOLAR BUSINESS MODEL FOR UTILITIES?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE GRID NEEDS INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OPERATORS
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SHOULD UTILITIES VALUE SOLAR?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: IS PUERTO RICO THE NEW POSTER CHILD FOR THE UTILITY DEATH SPIRAL?
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Reindeer Stresses
  • Weekend Video: Pink Fracking
  • Weekend Video: Fighting Duke For Solar
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, October 09, 2012

    On The Road Reading - BrightSource: The Rumors of Concentrating Solar Power’s Demise Are Wrong; But are the promises of cost reduction as real as the promises of jobs?

    Herman K. Trabish, May 24, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    The seemingly endless stream of cars coming out of BrightSource Energy’s 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar power plant complex bolsters the company’s recent declarations about its growth and the progress of the U.S. concentrating solar power (CSP) sector.

    “We’ve got 1,700 [people] at work,” said BrightSource Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications Joe Desmond. He added, many are from California’s Inland Empire, where unemployment reached 15 percent at the height of the Great Recession. “These are family-wage jobs. They’re electricians, pipefitters, welders, heavy equipment operators, engineers and biologists.” There is also a helmets-to-hardhats program designed for veterans.

    “People talk about the CSP industry being dormant or paused,” explained BrightSource Communications Director Keely Wachs. “Last year, PV had a banner year. The industry installed 868 megawatts in the U.S.,” said Wachs. “Now, there are 1,200 megawatts of CSP under construction in the U.S. alone, which will mean a 120 percent increase by 2013 over the 530 megawatts of operational CSP in the U.S. today.” And that, he added, “is not including the 3,000-plus megawatts under development.”

    Competitors SolarReserve (which has projects under way in Nevada and California) and Abengoa (which is developing in Arizona) would agree. But BrightSource is the biggest. A 29-megawatt plant is on-line, doing enhanced oil recovery (EOR) for Chevron. The three-tower, 370-megawatt Ivanpah project, in Ivanpah, CA, near Las Vegas, is on schedule to go on-line in 2013. And both its three-tower, 500-megawatt Hidden Hills project and its three-tower, 750-megawatt Rio Mesa project are under permitting review by the California Energy Commission, with decisions expected by the middle of 2013.

    Altogether, BrightSource expects to have thirteen plants, totaling 2,377 megawatts of capacity, on-line by 2017.

    The BrightSource solar power tower technology was developed by the builders of the original CSP trough technology at the nine Solar Energy Generating Stations (SEGS) still in operation today -- and not far from Ivanpah.

    “We produce high-temperature, high-pressure steam to turn a turbine,” Desmond explained. And, where it is contracted for, “we transfer heat from the solar field through a heat exchanger to molten salt for storage.” The technology is sophisticated enough that multinational engineering giant Bechtel was brought on at Ivanpah for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) duties.

    The Ivanpah facility without storage, said Desmond, has a 32 percent capacity factor. “A PV panel might have a 21 percent capacity factor,” Desmond went on. “If we add between two and six hours of storage, the capacity factor will be above 50 percent.” More importantly, Desmond added, “when you increase the capacity factor, you’re not necessarily increasing your cost at the same rate. You’re taking your fixed costs and spreading them out over more hours, which helps drive down cost.”

    BrightSource is concerned about costs. To minimize transport expense, it has built a heliostat assembly plant at the Ivanpah facility where a union workforce turns flat mirrors into heliostats at the rate of 500 per day.

    Moving to air cooling also promises cost savings. With trough technology, he explained, “there was a preference not to go to dry cooling because there was an efficiency loss.” But the tower operates “at a higher temperature and pressure that allows us to offset some of that efficiency change.”

    “That is the conversion of thermal energy to electricity -- photon to electron -- efficiency,” Wachs added. “The troughs were about 36 percent. Ivanpah is 42 percent with air cooling. Hidden Hills goes up to almost 44 percent. And when you get to supercritical levels, you get to 46 percent. Like a super-efficient coal plant. That is where we are headed, because of our heliostat design and our ability to understand the sun.”

    Water use is also minimized, Wachs added, because the entire system is a closed loop. The steam is condensed to water and recirculated. “We don’t require external water for cooling purposes.”

    BrightSource engineers are using on-the-ground experience to find new design efficiencies. “As we go from one project to the next,” Desmond said, “we are figuring out how to do it faster, better, and cheaper. We see that already at Ivanpah. We are ahead of schedule on unit three based on what we’ve learned with work done so far on units one and two.”

    A better understanding of the plant’s power block has produced a new design for the Hidden Hills project that, Desmond said, is expected to cost 40 percent more but double the output. Overall, he added, Hidden Hills is projected to be 20 percent less expensive to build.

    “This is our roadmap for driving down costs,” Desmond said. “When the original SEGS plants were built here in California 25 years ago, from the construction of the first to the ninth plant, the costs came down 50 percent. Our long-term goal is a 50 percent cost reduction from where we are now. That is different from PV. They have already had an opportunity to achieve the volumes that have led to their cost reduction.”

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