600MW of Solar in the Nevada Desert

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BrightSource announced a huge deal today (and last month they announced an even bigger one for 1,300 MW with Southern California Edison) but before jumping up and down too much, lets take a wait and see approach to how this will unfold.

Remember, BrightSource is led by a man that I quote often for having said “this is an industry of billions and decades, not millions and years.” While it is enormous, and it is great news for solar, let us not forget how just over a week ago Optisolar sold its pipeline of deals to FirstSolar.

That said, BrightSource has a strong debt partner in Morgan Stanley and VC backing with very deep pockets (are any financial partners really that strong though?).

You can read their latest press release here.

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8 Comments

  1. I have researched this process of collecting heat to make steam and then the steam us used as a fuel for powering a steam turbine. After studing this process I have made the conclusion that this process is nothing more than a waste of water and is very limited in hours a day of electrical production. I don’t understand how advances in technology for solar PV would anyone want to invest in a solar heat collecting system like this. This type of operation uses vast amounts of land and can only operate 4 hours a day. Is this a solution for a country that uses electric power 24 hours a day? It is like a new twist to use water as a fuel. The process also has mechanical parts that can wear out and break. I feel that solar PV is a better solution. It has no moving parts and in Nevada’s climate solar PV can produce 40% more electrical power with PV over solar heat collection. What happens in the winter months when it is cold and the performance of this type of electrical generating system looses performance due to temp.? There is no loss of power with a solar PV system. Steam is only 12% efficent. Solar PV systems start at 15%. Also what about the water usage in a desert. Water is used to substain life and I feel using water again as a fuel in the desert is not the answer or solution to our problems. It creates another problem. What is it with using fuel to produce electric power? This is what we are getting away from. It does not make sense to me and others. Look at Germany. Mechanically German products offer a high standard. Germany does not use wind or heat collection systems to produce electrical power. They use solar PV. Are we just wasting our time with solar heat collection production for electrical power. Is it affordable over time. Or is it just plane stupid. Why waste water and use a process that is mechanical over a proven process that does not waste water, and has no moving parts to break or wearout?

  2. Hey Jim,

    These processes are all closed loop systems, they don’t “lose” water. They are efficient, their moving parts are all in the steam turbine which are technologies that are brought from other rankine steam systems (coal, nuclear, and the second part of a combined cycle natural gas facility)

  3. Solar whether PV or Thermal is a very expensive way to produce electricity intermittently. Wind, where available, is currently about $.03/kwh and coming down. With CAES it is less than $.05/kwh giving 24/7 power. That is less than $5.00/mcf natural gas. Do you think natural gas prices are going to stay where they are at today? In CA and all the other western states enhanced geothermal is the way to go. CA produces over 5% of its electricity currently from non-enhanced sources. The amount of geothermal power available is limitless in CA. It is non-polluting and while it would use some water, the amount could be limited. By the way Jim, using dual closed cycle process can cool the steam down below boiling using very little water and would be more efficient in cooler temperatures.

  4. Whoa!! Geothermal is nonpolluting? I must have missed something. Has geothermal come up with a way to produce steam that doesn’t have water collecting all sorts of minerals and/or contaminants?

    • Tom,

      In a closed cycle geothermal system the steam is not vented to the air. The energy is removed until it is liquid water again and is pumped back down the injection well to be used again. If the water becomes too polluted the chemicals are removed, processed and sold in the chemical supply business creating a secondary source of income. The energy required to do this is almost free. We don’t just dump it in the creek anymore.

      Wayne

  5. Well… that is both intelligible and compelling!!! Please tell me more Alexcander [sic]… I suppose I have to pay you up front?

    Or is it that you are saying that all solar is manufactured in China, in which case, not in this instance.. they aren’t solar modules. Check out http://www.brightsourceenergy.com

  6. Thomas Saidak on

    Wayne,

    When are the minerals/contaminants removed? In a continuous closed cycle, that would be pretty hard on the plumbing. How are they dealing with that issue?

    Tom

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