Sunday, September 25, 2016

Consumers are getting burned by a taxpayer-subsidized solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert.

An immensely wealthy consortium owns the plant. Government regulators approved a contract forcing consumers to pay four to five times the going rate for electricity produced by the plant.

And the energy, because of an inordinate use of gas, turns out to be nowhere as “green” as folks thought they’d get....

The owners of the Ivanpah solar power facility received a federal loan guarantee of $1.6 billion, a tax credit in excess of $500 million, and contracts to sell power at four to five times the market rate of electricity. All predicated on the production of solar power.

But Ivanpah is not just a solar power plant. Many solar plants use solar cells to convert the sunlight directly into electricity.

Ivanpah is different. It uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight for generating steam that then drives turbines. These turbines produce energy in a similar fashion to that of traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.

However, Ivanpah has a problem those technologies don’t: intermittency. Meaning the sun doesn’t always shine.

For Ivanpah, this is an even bigger problem than it is for plants that use solar cells, because at night the temperature in the desert falls dramatically and the water cools down....