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January 20, 2010 – Comments (69)

Bill Gross, CEO of E-Solar says we can supply all the energy needs of the United States from 91 square miles of concentrated solar power generation using todays technology and it could be scaled faster than nuclear.



By comparison the EPA estimates mountaintop removal coal mining will have will have leveled 2200 square miles of Appalachian mountaintops by 2012. Plus the associated damage to waterways, air, and health.

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69 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 20, 2010 at 10:04 PM, Tastylunch (28.63) wrote:

Bill gross is one of my heroes

idea lab may be my favorite example of what capitalism is like when it's works up to its ideals.

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#2) On January 20, 2010 at 11:31 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:

I'm in complete agreement with you about Idealab, Tasty. It is as good an example as capitalism has and a far cry from the more common version that uses marketing and advertising to mislead its customers. It is also a great interview.

The problem facing e-Solar is that what they are building has already been bettered. Solyndra has a better idea already built. Nanotech coatings have eliminated the need for tracking systems.

There are so many original ideas out there, as an investor it is difficult to know which ones to choose and many of the best are not publicly traded.

I do think it is criminal of the Dems to have allowed idealogues to hold back Gov't investing in the technology and adoption of renewable energy. I also believe that the 2000 Presidential election will be recognized as the major turning point when the USA lost its lead in renewable technology. If we do. I cannot imagine how much better off we would have been if Gore had encouraged renewable investment and given all that housing money somewhere else to go.

That doesn't mean there will be no opportunities. The question is which, when and for how long will they be good investments.

I like OPTT (small position real life) but they have arrived at put up or shut up time. I think it will be put up but there is plenty of time as they have to build the wave farm and make it work. I like innovalight but I can only get a small part of that through TINY.

I like UTX for its CSP but it is a small part of big company.


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#3) On January 20, 2010 at 11:36 PM, Tastylunch (28.63) wrote:


that's why i don't invest in Solar stocks. There are far too many, my guess is anwyeher from 60-80% of these companies won't still be here in ten years,.

I have no idea which one will "win"

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#4) On January 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM, davejh23 (< 20) wrote:

Is this 91 square miles of solar panels, or 91 square miles of total land use?  Concentrated solar technology is used to power steam turbine generator power plants that still take up a large amount of land.  If he's saying 91 square miles of parabolic solar panels, then the actual land usage would be many many times more than this.  I'm assuming that this is the case, since existing technology concentrated solar plants produce far less energy than existing gas turbine or coal fired plants or nuclear plants.  Based on current technology, 100 new concentrated solar plants would power less than 3% of households.  Residential solar technology will likely produce more energy than concentrated solar plants going forward...I work for an industry leader in both areas.

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#5) On January 20, 2010 at 11:54 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:


Once again no argument from me. Hopefully when some of them fail, all of them wil get cheaper.

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#6) On January 21, 2010 at 12:21 AM, devoish (65.08) wrote:


The technology to spin a turbine with hot water is the same no matter what heats the water. The land saving is from mining the energy. The land upon which the turbines sit is less than the land used for collectors, not "many many times more than this".

One of the majjor arguments given against solar is the land needed. It is less than the land needed for coal mining, and getting smaller every weekend with the announcement of, ths week alone, improved mirrors from a German glass company, a nano tech coating which focuses the sunlight I think from MIT, and lowered production costs from spraying layers on. The nano tech coating is still a demo, but the glass is being sold today, and the spray on is being done today. For profit.

Coal for energy is a buggy whip. There is no reason to ever build another coal power plant.


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#7) On January 21, 2010 at 1:22 AM, angusthermopylae (38.61) wrote:

The technology to spin a turbine with hot water is the same no matter what heats the water.

...One of the majjor arguments given against solar is the land needed.

Agree on all points--but it's the  second one that is particulary galling to me--both in idealism and application.

For example,  91 sq. miles for the entire United States implies that it an average of less than 2 sq. miles per state (yeah, California and NY would suck up more, and Rhode Island would probably be ok with a couple of foot ball fields.)  Even better, though, is that all this doesn't have to be in the same spot--those 2 square miles could be broken up into several counties...probably leading to a significant surplus when all is said and done.

But that leads to the problem of practice.  NIMBY-ists ("Not In My Back Yard") want everything far away.  Tree huggers don't want the extremely rare species of burrowing jackalope to have to move less than 1 mile away.  Politicians get more votes and kickbacks from letting big employers like coal and oil carry on as usual.  And "renewable, cheap, clean energy" means that power companies would have to keep their rates down AND have more competition ("Raise my rates?  Well, we'll just plug into that new-fangled solar oven in the next county.")

In theory, it's fantastic.  In practical terms, it's an eco-warrior and a utopian wet dream...

Do a few Google searches on "solar power", "environmental impact", and "housing association", though, and you'll see that the idea(s) run into some very strange resistance.

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#8) On January 21, 2010 at 5:45 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

Solar power in Spain

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#9) On January 21, 2010 at 5:54 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

Proportion of renewable energy in the EU countries (and some candidates), 2007

(from here)

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#10) On January 21, 2010 at 5:54 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:


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#11) On January 21, 2010 at 6:41 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

Learning From Europe


for the "you can't compare them" guys.

Gross domestic product, current prices U.S. dollars Billions 2007-2014

United States

14,077.650 14,441.425 14,266.201 14,704.207 15,326.881 16,008.506 16,729.376 17,419.352

European Union

16,939.481 18,387.785 16,190.981 16,868.567 17,308.349 17,844.458 18,433.389 19,054.656

(from here)

Population Persons Millions 2010 estimate

United States 308,524

European Union 501,259

(from here and here


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#12) On January 21, 2010 at 6:48 AM, devoish (65.08) wrote:

I recently read a stat that says humans use 85% of the entire planet for farming, living and fishing. I did not vet it, but if so, the burrowing jackalope does not have much room left in which to burrow. And you do understand saving the Burrowing Jackalope is not just about the Jackalope. It is about everything else that lives with it on the same land. Knowing which of those species is going to be important to you is not someting you can guess, but there are medicines that come from only one type of plant. Had it become extinct that medicine would not exist.

Of course in the Bill Gross interview I supplied a link to, he says there is plenty of land in Ca, suitable for solar that has already been disturbed for farming, parking lots, empty tract housing that would suffice. He says his company has identified more than enough sites to leave the Jackalope what little it has left.

And that is at his efficiency level, not anything better, some links to which I also supplied in one reply, and the rate of cost cuttine and efficiency improvements is the reason solar is a difficult investment.

This is going to be on Long Island where I live and I am happy to have this Put In My Back Yard (Notice they left the litter out of the picture?).

The cost of the 17 megawatt car port solar is $6.5 million/year for 20 years. When new panels get put on those ports in twenty years I bet solar will be cheaper than oil, gas or coal.

LIPA is also planning on 32 megawatts traditional solar field from BP solar at a cost of 15 million/year for twenty years. It is going to be on land at Brookhaven National Lab that has been reclaimed and partially reforested. It is across the LIRR tracks from a power substation, which is what makes it desirable. Treehugg'n NIABY's (Not In Anybodys Back Yard) want to know why the less expensive carport system that does not disturb pine barren forest is not also getting the money for the BP solar project. I don't see the treehugger's as selfish. I see them as able to add up which power source will cost them less, and figure out that also getting car port's to park under and forest to walk in for less money is smart.

Here is the press release. You can check the math.

The coal and oil companys are running out of cheap gas. They are the Buggy Whips of today. At least as far energy is concerned. Their companys will still be needed for metallurgical and plastics, two industrys whose future is going up in smoke when it did not need to.

Already UTX can keep energy from the day long enough to use all night long.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.


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#13) On January 21, 2010 at 7:02 AM, devoish (65.08) wrote:


You linked a Krugman article, please everyone do not start calling him names. If you participate try to focus on the facts that were presented, challenge them if you doubt them, but link to your sources.

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#14) On January 21, 2010 at 7:39 AM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:


What kind of technology exists for storing electricity?  My guess is you would still need alternate power supplies in case of extended periods of cloudiness. 

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#15) On January 21, 2010 at 8:18 AM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

This 91 square mile figure is obviously wrong.  As of 2007, the US generating capacity was 1,087,791 megawatts (DOE figure). This would imply almost 12 gigawatts per square mile even without factoring in efficiency.


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#16) On January 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

What kind of technology exists for storing electricity?


How to Use Solar Energy at Night

Near Granada, Spain, more than 28,000 metric tons of salt is now coursing through pipes at the Andasol 1 power plant. That salt will be used to solve a pressing if obvious problem for solar power: What do you do when the sun is not shining and at night?

The answer: store sunlight as heat energy for such a rainy day.

Part of a so-called parabolic trough solar-thermal power plant, the salts will soon help the facility light up the night—literally. Because most salts only melt at high temperatures (table salt, for example, melts at around 1472 degrees Fahrenheit, or 800 degrees Celsius) and do not turn to vapor until they get considerably hotter—they can be used to store a lot of the sun's energy as heat. Simply use the sunlight to heat up the salts and put those molten salts in proximity to water via a heat exchanger. Hot steam can then be made to turn turbines without losing too much of the original absorbed solar energy.

The salts—a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrate, otherwise used as fertilizers—allow enough of the sun's heat to be stored that the power plant can pump out electricity for nearly eight hours after the sun starts to set. "It's enough for 7.5 hours to produce energy with full capacity of 50 megawatts," says Sven Moormann, a spokesman for Solar Millennium, AG, the German solar company that developed the Andasol plant. "The hours of production are nearly double [those of a solar-thermal] power plant without storage and we have the possibility to plan our electricity production."

Using mirrors to concentrate the sun's energy is an old trick—the ancient Chinese and Greeks both used it to start fires—and modern power plants employing it might provide a significant source of renewable energy without any greenhouse gas emissions.

That is a step forward in its own right, but such power plants are limited to generating energy only when there is sunshine. So engineers have tried a number of different technologies to store the sun's energy so that such power plants can be more broadly employed. They have tried batteries but too much of the energy that goes in is not returned, and they tend to be too expensive, according to an analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. Compressing air or pumping water uphill are more promising, but the opportunities to do that are limited by the number of caverns and the availability of water and reservoirs.

Melting salts at temperatures above 435 degrees Fahrenheit (224 degrees Celsius), however, can deliver back as much as 93 percent of the energy, plus the salts are ubiquitous because of their application as fertilizers.

"There's a term called round-trip efficiency. Basically, it's a measure of how much electricity is produced if the thermal energy that's generated is first stored and then used compared to just directly taking the energy. That number is around 93 percent," explains NREL senior engineer Greg Glatzmaier. "[For] things like compressed air and mechanical type storage, there's more significant losses," an average of at least 20 percent over all the various technologies.

The Andasol 1 power plant, which cost around $380 million (300 million euros) to build, is the first to actually use the technology, so it remains to be seen how it will work in commercial practice. But U.S. government laboratories—NREL as well as Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.—have already proved the technology can work in demonstration projects that employed it, like the Solar Two power tower outside Barstow, Calif.

Solar Millennium is so confident the technology will work that a twin solar-thermal power plant (Andasol 2) is already near completion. "It will start operations at the beginning of summer—May or June," Moormann says.

And Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) has contracted with Abengoa Solar to build a 280-megawatt solar thermal power plant—dubbed Solana or "sunny place"—70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest of Phoenix on nearly 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of land. "One of the great things about molten salt technology is that you can get more out of the pure solar resources, more energy out of the same facility," says Barbara Lockwood, manager for renewable energy at APS. "It's an alternative that provides us with additional green energy," as much as 1,680 megawatt-hours when cloudy or after sunset.

But that extra energy comes at a cost. First, the power plant has to be enlarged so that it is both generating its full electrical capacity as well as heating up the salts. In the case of Andasol 1 that meant covering 126 acres (50 hectares) with long rows of troughs and pipe. And then there is the additional expense of the molten salt storage tanks, according to Moormann.

All told, that means thermal energy storage at Andasol 1 or power plants like it costs roughly $50 per kilowatt-hour to install, according to NREL's Glatzmaier. But it doesn't add much to the cost of the resulting electricity because it allows the turbines to be generating for longer periods and those costs can be spread out over more hours of electricity production. Electricity from a solar-thermal power plant costs roughly 13 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to Glatzmaier, both with and without molten salt storage systems.

That price is still nearly twice as much as electricity from a coal-fired power plant—the current cheapest generation option if environmental costs are not taken into account. But Arizona's APS and others can then use solar energy to meet the maximum electricity demand later in the day. "Our peak demand [for electricity] is later in the evening, once solar production is trailing off," Lockwood says. That's "the reason we went that direction and are so interested in storage technology."

As efficient as solar-thermal power plants using parabolic troughs with molten salt storage systems like Andasol 1 or Solana are, they don’t capture as much of the sun's heat as is possible. Above 750 degrees F (400 degrees C), the synthetic oils used to capture the sun’s heat in the troughs begin to break down, but the molten salts can take in much more heat than that.

To allow the salts to get hotter, some companies, such as SolarReserve in Santa Monica, Calif., are developing so-called power towers—vast fields of mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto a central tower. Because of the centralized design such a structure can operate at much higher temperatures—up to 1,000 degrees F (535 degrees C)—and use molten salts directly as the fluid transferring heat in the power plant. "We are heating the salts to more than 1,000 degrees F and that results in the same inlet conditions that utilities see today on a coal-fired or nuclear power plant," says Terry Murphy, SolarReserve's president.





Solar power generation around the clock

November 5, 2009 by Lin Edwards

( -- A Californian company, SolarReserve, is developing a solar power system that can store seven hours' worth of solar energy by focusing mirrors onto millions of gallons of molten salt, allowing the plant to provide electricity 24 hours a day.

The company has applied to regulators in California for permission to build the 150-megawatt Rice Solar Energy Project solar farm near the abandoned town of Rice in San Bernadino County, California.

The solar energy is stored using a massive circular array of up to 17,500 mirrors (heliostats), each measuring 24 by 28 feet and attached to a 12-foot pedestal. The heliostat field encircles a concrete Solar Power Tower 538 feet high, with a 100-foot high receiver on top, which holds 4.4 million gallons of molten salt. When the heliostats focus the sunlight onto the receiver the salt is heated to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it is needed, such as at night or at peak times, the heat is released by passing the molten salt through a steam generator that drives a turbine to produce electricity. The cooled salt is then recirculated to the receiver for re-heating. The project brings the dream of a solar system that generates electricity in the dark to a reality, and avoids the need to use fossil fuel plants for backup electricity generation.



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#17) On January 21, 2010 at 9:06 AM, lemoneater (57.42) wrote:

Salt as storage for solar energy. Fascinating!

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#18) On January 21, 2010 at 9:11 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:



Net generation of electric power increased 2.3 percent in 2007, to 4,157 million megawatthours (MWh) from 4,065 million MWh in 2006 (Figure ES1).


(from here


Sunlight on the surface of Earth is attenuated by the Earth's atmosphere so that less power arrives at the surface—closer to 1,000 W/m2 in clear conditions when the Sun is near the zenith.


(from here)

1 mile ≈ 1,609.344 meters.

using a factor of 1/3 for efficiency and the sun not being "near the zenith" you get

-> ≈ 1/3 * 10^3 W/m^2 * 1.3 * 10^6 m^2/mile^2 = 0.86 * 10^9 W/sm = 0.86 GW/mile^2.

1.3 GW/mile^2 * 91 sm * 10 h/d * 365.25 d/y ≈ 2.87 * 10^5 GWh/y = 287 million MWh/y.

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#19) On January 21, 2010 at 9:25 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

(the "1/3 *10 h/d" factor is a wild guess by portefeuille of course and should be seen as one "efficiency" factor of 1/3 * 10/24 ≈ 0.14).


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#20) On January 21, 2010 at 9:46 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:


1.3 -> 2.59 (just a typographical error, the calculation is okay, sorry.)


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#21) On January 21, 2010 at 9:48 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

Solar power from Saharan sun could provide Europe's electricity, says EU

Sahara Sun 'to help power Europe'

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#22) On January 21, 2010 at 9:55 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:


actually 1.3 appears twice in comment #18 and is wrong in both places (and in two different ways, hehe). the calculation is correct, sorry again!

the corrected version.


-> ≈ 1/3 * 10^3 W/m^2 * 1.3 * 10^6 m^2/mile^2 = 0.86 * 10^9 W/mile^2 = 0.86 GW/mile^2.

0.86 GW/mile^2 * 91 mile^2 * 10 h/d * 365.25 d/y ≈ 2.87 * 10^5 GWh/y = 287 million MWh/y.



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#23) On January 21, 2010 at 10:03 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

i should have stayed in bed.


-> ≈ 1/3 * 10^3 W/m^2 * 2.59 * 10^6 m^2/mile^2 = 0.86 * 10^9 W/mile^2 = 0.86 GW/mile^2.

0.86 GW/mile^2 * 91 mile^2 * 10 h/d * 365.25 d/y ≈ 2.87 * 10^5 GWh/y = 287 million MWh/y.




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#24) On January 21, 2010 at 10:05 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

if we don't get an "edit function" i will discontinue posting (except for my calls). not sure people would mind though, hehe ...

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#25) On January 21, 2010 at 10:22 AM, devoish (65.08) wrote:


Using the Solana figure of 280mw, and NOTvuffett's figure of 1,087,791 mw of US capacity and the 2000 Solana acres being slightly more than 3 square miles, I get a land area requirement using that technology of about 12,000 square miles, to power tthe USA, including the turbines and everything (which the mountaintop removal does not include). Less than one half of one percent of the USA land area, but a far cry from 91 square miles Bill Gross gives.

I would say your efficiency factor needs to be adjusted downward, and Mr Gross needs to be challenged on his figure unless he is much more efficient than Solana.

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#26) On January 21, 2010 at 10:29 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

I agree about the edit function!!!

In 2007, other renewables represented 105,235,000 MW (Megawatthours) of energy out of a total US generation of 4,156,745,000 MWh.

Other renewables represents the summation of the sub-categories of Wind, Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic, Wood and Wood Derived Fuels, Geothermal, and Other Biomass.

If you add in Nuclear and Hydroelectric, I didn't include burning tires and garbage as Green, the Green energy represents 1,159,170,000 MW which is about 28% of 2007 power generation.

By comparison, Coal was 2,016,456,000 MW which is about 1.5 times "Green" or 48.5% of 2007 power generation. The remaining power was from Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Other Gases. Other gases are blast furnace gas, propane gas, and other manufactured and waste gases derived from fossil fuels.


So, this is actually ok news. Prior to the 2.3 billion tax credit and 2 years ago, we were already running over 28% green power generation in the US.

Solar is typically 300% the cost of conventional power generation and unless you put it in orbit only generates for a portion of the day.

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#27) On January 21, 2010 at 10:53 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

They do not use the sunlight collectable on "3 square miles". They use 2,700 trough collectors ~25 feet wide, ~500 feet long, and ~10 feet in height. When the sun is "near the zenith" (i.e. collectors "point upwards") the area is about 2700 * 25 * 500 ft^2 = 2700 * 25 * 500 * ft^2 * (1 mile/5280 ft)^2 ≈ 1.21 mile^2.

Arizona Utility Aims High for Solar Array

(from here)

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#28) On January 21, 2010 at 10:57 AM, ChrisGraley (28.58) wrote:

I wonder how they overcome the heat loss in the molten salt due to ambiate radiation?

It's a really good idea though and I could even envision a use for the molten salt in dasalinization plants. Just use ocean water for the steam generation. Perfect for desert use near oceans and after providing fresh drinking water, the salt byproduct could be added to the molten salt. The symbiosis could help reduce operating costs.


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#29) On January 21, 2010 at 11:11 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

... Solar Millennium, AG, the German solar company that developed the Andasol plant.

Solar Millennium (S2M.DE)



consensus estimates.

(Umsatz -> revenue, Gewinn -> earnings, KGV -> P/E, for the rest, see here


#948) On January 21, 2010 at 10:13 AM, portefeuille (99.97) wrote: S2M.DE - 49.35 (35.00 EUR) - - outperform


(from here)


Germany’s Solar Millennium aims for 1,500MW US surge


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#30) On January 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:


Photovoltaic power capacity is measured as maximum power output under standardized test conditions (STC) in "Wp" (Watts peak).


(from here)

I guess the "280 MW capacity" is some kind of "watts peak" value. So to calculated the "amount of energy 'produced'" in a certain period you cannot simply multiply this "peak power" by the length of the period.

more data is here.

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#31) On January 21, 2010 at 11:33 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:



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#32) On January 21, 2010 at 11:50 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:

I have spent quite a few of my vacations at the Costa del Sol in Spain and we have a "solar heated pool" there. Water is pumped through a black tube lying in the sun. That's it. Very efficient and very cheap.

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#33) On January 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Solar and wind combined with Fuel Cells for storage is a great idea but I haven't seen anything that indicates there is a (battery) storage capability in wind and solar farms.

Have you seen anything related to storage to manage peak and off-peak loads? 


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#34) On January 21, 2010 at 12:29 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:


my understanding is the off/on peak load problem is conventional energys problem. Apparently coal/nuke are difficult to turn up and down.


It still uses three square miles, all in at Solana. Even if some of those miles are used to walk between the collectors. Actually at that many square miles solar seems very do-able to me. And a much better opportunity. See you all tonight. Thanks for the civil discussion.

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#35) On January 21, 2010 at 1:13 PM, rofgile (99.29) wrote:


 eSolar is definitely doing well as a company lately, with the large contract to build a solar facility in China.  I also like that they are concentrating solar rather than PV.  For large power plants, concentrating solar seems to make a lot of sense to me as competition problems due to the rapidly changing technologies of PV are not a problem.  

 However, eSolar has one really wierd aspect to it.  They remotely control all their power plants over the internet from California.  So, even though a huge plant is being built in China using only Chinese labor, the operation of the plant will occur solely from a central location in California.  This same central location will control power plants in California, Nevada, etc. 

 Doesn't that seem like a dangerous system?  Just recently we are finding that organized hackers associated with the Chinese government are targeting and attacking more than 30 companies servers in the US to steal IP and corporate plans.  A centrally run facility in California controlling power plants thoughout the US and China would be a very high priority target in this modern world of cyber warfare.

 I am frankly surprised that the US has not more strongly denounced the cyber attacks as an attack on the US.  They are.


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#36) On January 21, 2010 at 1:49 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Maybe its just me but it seems like the biggest cause of the inefficiency in power distribution is the lack of storage and the loss that occurs in the grid. The grid is always On yet should be focused on point of use.

Though water heaters that only heat water when its needed partially address the issue, distributed generation and storage would reduce power generation to a constant. Home systems that generate and store energy eliminate the 5-6% transmission loss and potentially only address household demand when needed or can sell the excess to the grid. 

Oddly, this is where we were before the grid using coal and natural gas.

Combining wind, solar, and fuel cells for the home also creates a bigger footprint. But, I haven't seen any companies approaching it this way.

I'm probably missing something obvious.

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#37) On January 21, 2010 at 6:38 PM, ElCid16 (94.64) wrote:


One possibility for storing energy...

"Electricity from renewable sources can be like a perfect luncheon served at 4 a.m., a nice thing but far more appreciated at a different hour. Electricity is hard to store, though, which is why nearly all of it is consumed at the instant it is generated, and energy storage is still in its infancy.

Now a Phoenix company, Southwest Solar Technology, is going at the problem with a new twist.

The idea is to take surplus energy at any hour of the day, and from any source, and use it to pump air into a subterranean cavern — up to 350 pounds of air a square inch. Then, when electricity is needed, the air can be bled from the cavern to spin a turbine, a device that converts the energy of a passing gas into rotary energy. The turbine spins an generator and puts power on the grid on demand, rather than at the whim of sun or breeze."

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#38) On January 21, 2010 at 7:14 PM, Option1307 (30.68) wrote:

Good discussion going here, thanks Fools!

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#39) On January 21, 2010 at 9:17 PM, rexlove (99.70) wrote:

I think we're neglecting 2 things here:

1. Wind energy - efficiencies here are much greater than solar and many of these turbines ban be built offshore and close to many major metropolitan areas. After all most of the largest cities are near the ocean.

2. Natural Gas - at least here in the US is quite abundant. This would be an ideal interim strategy until other green energy sources are developed. While not totally green - it does burn much cleaner than oil and coal. And it can be easily implemented as a fuel source for automobiles. I still cant see why Obama doesn't push for this more.   

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#40) On January 22, 2010 at 11:42 AM, portefeuille (98.88) wrote:



Andasol 1 is officially inaugurated

Today Europe's first ever parabolic trough power plant, Andasol 1, is being officially inaugurated under the patronage of the president of the Junta de Andalucía. In December 2008, Andasol 1 was connected to the grid and supplies up to 200,000 people in southern Spain with environmentally friendly electricity. With a collector surface of more than 510,000 square meters - equalling the area of 70 soccer fields - Andasol 1 also is the world's largest solar power plant. For the first time ever, large thermal storage facilities are being used, enabling the plant to even generate solar power after sunset.

Andasol 1 was developed by Solar Millennium AG, which specialises in solar-thermal power plants, and constructed by the Spanish ACS/Cobra Group. The project company for Andasol 1 is a joint venture by ACS/Cobra (75%) and Solar Millennium (25%). Solar Millennium's subsidiary Flagsol contributed the technology for the solar field. In the immediate vicinity of Andasol 1, the solar power plants Andasol 2 and 3, which are basically identical in construction, are being built. At present Andasol 2 is in the start-up phase; Andasol 3 will be connected to the grid in 2011. The entire gross power production capacity of the plants will total about 540 GWh per year. Thus, the plants will supply more than half a million people with power and save roughly 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The power plants will mainly cover peak demand within the Spanish electricity supply system in the summer months. The high electricity demand is primarily caused by the high energy consumption of air-condition units. Each power plant has 50 megawatts of electric power and thermal storage facilities. A full storage unit guarantees additional power generation of about 7.5 hours - also at night. Each thermal storage facility consists of two tanks that are 14 m high and 36 m in diameter and can hold 28,500 tons of molten salt.


So you get 180 GWh with 510000 m^2 "total collector area" (tca). For 4,157 million MWh (see comment #18 above) you would need a tca of about 4548 mile^2.

Add in your "walking space" and your 12000 square mile (see comment #25 above) seems reasonable.

Short movie on the construction of Andasol 1

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#41) On January 22, 2010 at 12:37 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

The Storage solution has been around for quite a while. 

Hydrogen-Based Utility Energy Storage System

Innogy pulls plug on Regenesys

Tuesday December 16, 2003
The Guardian

Innogy, the energy group, has abandoned its Regenesys electricity storage project after its German parent, RWE, decided against investing the money needed to commercialise the technology.

"The whole project has stopped. Following a European-wide review of core projects, the decision was taken not to commit further funding to the Regenesys electricity storage scheme," a spokesman said yesterday. "While ongoing testing has proven the technology, we will not be committing the capital expenditure needed to take it to market," he added.

Regenesys developed huge batteries to store electricity.

Innogy, one of the UK's largest utilities, is to concentrate on electricity generation, as well its power and gas retail businesses and renewables.

The company has invested £140m over the past 14 years in the scheme.

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#42) On January 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

U.S. DOE: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy


Proceedings of the 2001 DOE Hydrogen Program Review


"Technologies for hydrogen as an energy carrier and fuel have been funded by the U.S. government since the oil embargo of the early 1970’s. Hydrogen's potential lies in its ability to serve as an energy carrier that can be consumed at the point of use with little or no pollution. It is not a primary energy source, rather an energy storage medium."

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#43) On January 22, 2010 at 1:31 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Is our problem power supply or efficiency?  

So I just asked myself, "Self, why isn't the government focusing taxpayer dollars on government efficiency and simply implementing what industry isn't capable of?"

The more I read the more ticked-off I get at the News Media coverage we get in the US.

USPS: Reducing Energy Usage

"Detailed energy audits at the largest energy-consuming buildings, which account for the majority of the Postal Service’s energy consumption, have identified more than 2 trillion BTUs of potential energy reductions — the energy equivalent of 62,000 U.S. households. And projects saving 875 billion BTUs per year have already been completed, equivalent to energy used by 27,000 U.S. households."

"A three-year test of third-generation hydrogen fuel cell minivans was completed in summer 2008 with more than 1.4 million mail pieces delivered in Irvine, CA, and Springfield, VA. Fuel economy was double that of conventional gasoline vehicles and reliability was excellent. Since August 2008, USPS has been testing the latest generation of hydrogen fuel cell in Irvine, CA, and Washington, DC. Together, these Chevrolet Equinoxes have delivered more than 500,000 mail pieces."

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#44) On January 22, 2010 at 10:21 PM, rexlove (99.70) wrote:

I'm working with the group that is working on upgrading the building control systems for the USPS in Manhattan. There's so much you can do just with HVAC and lighting controls that can save huge $$$... 

I've read somewhere that something like 1/2 of electrical consumption here in the US is due to buildings. Imagine if we just improved the energy efficiency of these existing buildings. 

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#45) On January 23, 2010 at 12:02 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

This is the story rexlove, I find it odd that more aren't aware

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#46) On January 23, 2010 at 12:46 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

and I find it really odd the current administration isn't focused on it. This is something they can do without changing the laws of our land.

Maybe they'll wake up for "The People"? 

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#47) On January 23, 2010 at 12:58 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

footnote to my comments:

• Global Warming is a scam

• Carbon Tax is a scam

• Cap and Trade is a scam 

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#48) On January 23, 2010 at 1:01 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

PS: Stewardship isn't a scam!!!

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#49) On January 23, 2010 at 1:11 AM, topsecret09 (87.02) wrote:

 Very good thread with lots of Information to absorb.  And why not add a little company that I have followed for years.....       TS

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#50) On January 23, 2010 at 1:46 AM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

llcx, stewardship is not a scam.  It is about being responsible.  But it is also about being smart in how you direct your efforts.

Rexlove, I agree.  Wind and natural gas are the way to go right now.  Wind energy is clean and competitive in some locals.  Nat. gas is clean, plentiful and cheap that can take up the slack during high loads.

Topsecret09, actually the flywheel idea that you mention for energy storage doesn't sound too bad.




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#51) On January 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

I agree NOTvuffett,

It was great to find that the objectives of the Smart Grind include:

• Distributed generation (DG) – small, widely dispersed plants, generally in close proximity to load

• Renewables – wind, solar, biomass, etc.

• Energy storage – in essence, giant “batteries” and “capacitors”

• Demand response (DR) – decreasing demand instead of increasing supply in response to peak loads

Distributed Generator: A generator that is located close to the particular load that it is intended to serve. General, but non-exclusive, characteristics of these generators include: an operating strategy that supports the served load; and interconnection to a distribution or sub-transmission system.

The TR10 Liquid Battery (if successful) could be used in the home in conjunction with wind, solar, and the grid; see the link below.

Wind farm with battery storage in Ireland

VRB Energy Storage System (VRB-ESS)

TR10: Liquid Battery - Video

Smart Grid 

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#52) On January 23, 2010 at 8:42 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:

The more I learn about the water cost of fracking shales for natural gas, the more I cannot get on board with the idea when there are other choices. Even when it is done right rhere are still thousands of gallons polluted forever.

We need the water, ther is no replacement. We have other energy choices.

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#53) On January 26, 2010 at 12:16 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

check these out devoish : )




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#54) On January 26, 2010 at 1:59 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:


The steam boiler (video 1) tied to a micro-turbine for power, heat, AC, and hot water in the home along with wind/solar, the stepped up voltage (video 2), and some storage capacity (VRB, TR10, or fuel cell) could generate more power then needed in the home.

Tell me again why we need miles of solar and wind fields and need to mess up ground water with "fracking shales for natural gas"?

The boiler and micro-turbines need annual Maintenance, repair, and operational checks (MRO) - so instead of selling us power we buy MRO. Works for me, we get clean air and water, employ a lot of people, and don't waste resources.

Note: the flywheel uses magnetic bearings to eliminate annual MRO. So I'll ask again, Is our problem power supply or efficiency?

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#55) On January 26, 2010 at 2:06 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

PS I threw the Gravity Powered Airplane in for fun. Its to cool, I Want One : ) 

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#56) On January 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

PPS The excess energy could be stored to power our electric car. 65% of oil imports are dedicated to gas powered pollution.

Here's an example I'd also love to own some day.

Tesla Roadster or Model S - your DOE dollars at work (1,600 jobs) : ) 

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#57) On January 26, 2010 at 3:00 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

hat's off to the original posted video but from where I sit "Stupidity is the 'Bitch' Baby"

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#58) On January 26, 2010 at 11:41 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:

If the products in your three videos come to market I'll be more enthused.

Thanks for the links.

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#59) On January 27, 2010 at 12:19 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

;) glad to be of some help devoish

I'm not inclined to wait on "fools" for a solution. I guess the question is, are you a "fool"? 

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#60) On January 27, 2010 at 12:21 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

... or more to the muse, a Motley Fool <-- respect for this!!!


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#61) On January 27, 2010 at 12:27 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

: )

Best, IIcx 

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#62) On January 28, 2010 at 3:46 AM, buildgreen (< 20) wrote:

From the original discussion.. Do any of you know if these solar variations can be specifically classified as baseload power? If so can you provide validation?

In countries with high levels of renewables.. can any of you show that baseload power has been off set allowing for the decommissioning of dirty power plants?

I would love to be proven wrong by one of you fools but it is my understanding that not a single dirty base load power plant has been decommissioned anywhere in the world due to availability of non baseload green energy. Bear in mind power like geothermal can qualify as baseload so it does not count.. but solar and wind have not counted.. unless you can point to something to counter that we will keep cutting mountains down for coal.


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#63) On January 28, 2010 at 10:09 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

Since I was having some fun with the term "fool" I'll raise my hand:

Solar tower technology with storage provides baseload or dispatchable power

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#64) On January 31, 2010 at 12:37 PM, buildgreen (< 20) wrote:

thanks llcx.. interesting read.

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#65) On February 01, 2010 at 1:36 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

the topic is incredibly interesting buildgreen but I can't find a single reference to a coal fired power plant that has been shuttered by "green" tech. I was also amazed to see the cost of closing one. Retrofitting the plants seems like a better solution.

It would be amazing to see the water hammer approach applied to a coal plant to drive the steam turbines.

Related to coal, 40% of US mining is exported so even with green energy its unlikely to save the landscape. 

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#66) On February 01, 2010 at 5:01 PM, buildgreen (< 20) wrote:

Yeah, it is an amazing industry..huge amounts of frothy bubbly attention. As much as i hate it i believe "clean coal" will be a big industry deep into this century.  In full disclosure I am involved in a hydro power startup myself. The thing that paints a good picture or bad based on your point of view is the infantancy of the industry.

In the real world actual generation is usually a fraction of the amount  (once commissioned and historigraphical data is generated/ studied) of the sales proclamations of clean power. Many if not all clean systems generate fractions of what they claim. The inability to produce the amount we expect is a major problem for many alternative commercial level solar and wind farms. Its actually the area we focus on as a market niche (hydro kinetic).

In my discussions with pp operators they believe that we are a long time off from switching our grid over. And while there is a huge amount of money going into the clean tech sector (incredibly focused among a few big donor class groups).. a big part of it is no different then the dot com boom. Money is largely there by non standard economic channels (temporary govt programs, grants, companies responding to legislation that is prone to change, universities doing studies that will never be commercialised). Its risky business and the winds of change could easily come down and slap the progress right out of us. 


Im having a hard time understanding the water hammer approach. Can you send me a link.. I must admit after 1.5 hours of reading this blog I lost focus and probably missed a few things. 

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#67) On February 01, 2010 at 8:47 PM, devoish (65.08) wrote:

Buildgreen, I cannot think of any powerplant that has been decommisioned by renewables. I would expect it is more a matter of not building new at this point.

UTX has CSP that can supply baseload by storing solar heat in molten salt, and they are no lightweight.

The other "technology"  that is replacing baseload is "combined". Solar combined with biomass for instance. On set of turbines, two sources of heat. I know I just read of a multi year - multi billion dollar investment in such in China.

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#68) On February 02, 2010 at 10:15 AM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

#53 1st video is a water hammer buildgreen - they are referring to it as a boiler. Pretty cool idea.

The other one I really like is the new coal plant scrubber they are testing that converts the sulfur flue gas to hydrogen and the hydrogen to stored fuel cell electricity for peak leveling.

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#69) On February 11, 2010 at 12:47 PM, IIcx (< 20) wrote:

This could be a game changer for solar:

February 11, 2010 8:16 AM PST

IBM boosts solar cell made of abundant materials


IBM researchers are developing a solar cell with an eye towards what's in the ground.

Researchers on Wednesday published a technical paper in the journal Advanced Materials that describes a solar cell made of abundant materials with relatively high efficiency. The cell can convert 9.6 percent of solar energy into electrical energy, a 40 percent boost over current methods.

That level of efficiency is already far exceeded in commercial silicon-based cells and even beat by thin-film solar cells, which are cheaper to make than silicon cells but are less efficient. But IBM researchers set out to make a cell that uses materials that are relatively abundant elements--copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur, or selenium (CZTS). The availability of materials for existing solar technologies limits their long-term potential, according to IBM.


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