Critical Section

underpowered solar

Thursday,  02/20/14  09:58 PM

Everybody is rooting for solar power, myself included; at first glance solar power seems to have all the right attributes for a green source of energy.  (Entropy!)  But on closer examination, it isn't even a contender.

Consider the recent blog post on Inhabitat, celebrating Ivanpah, the world's largest solar thermal plant switching online.  "The world's largest concentrating solar power plant, officially started generating energy for California’s electric grid. Located just southwest of Las Vegas, the massive solar facility can produce a whopping 392 megawatts of solar energy.

Whopping?  Let's just ask, how much electricity does a typical nuclear power plant generate?  "In 2012, the 'average' nuclear power plant in the United States generated about 11.8 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh)... The Palo Verde plant in Arizona has three reactors with the largest combined generating capacity1 of about 3,937 megawatts (MW).  Fort Calhoun in Nebraska had the smallest capacity with a single reactor at 502 megawatts (MW)."

Okayyy.  So the smallest capacity nuclear reactor in the US has a capacity nearly 25% more than the world's largest solar plant.  But what about cleanliness?  Well let's go back to Inhabitat: "Despite these impressive numbers, Ivanpah has been mired in controversy for its high operating costs and for reportedly killing and scorching alarming numbers of the local wildlife."  Hmmm, doesn't sound quite so clean, does it?

The reality is that solar power, like wind power, just isn't ready for prime time as a replacement for fossil fuel power plants, or for damming rivers.  The only technology that can deliver the kind of power we need - and the only technology which is truly "cleaner" - is nuclear power.  It is so sad that the association with nuclear weapons has put nuclear power on the wrong side of environmental advocates.  It is truly our only option.

'14   '13   '12
'11   '10   '09
'08   '07   '06
'05   '04   '03
flight  X
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?