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Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program

3/19/2012 07:31 PM EDT
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motti2
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
motti2   3/19/2012 8:59:35 PM
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Fundamentally, any solar technology deployed at scale needs to properly be BASELOAD CAPABLE to deploy at scale and avoid damaging the power quality of the grid ( whether distributed on rooftops at grid scale or solar power plants ). Despite fascinating science and action in R&D and manufacturing advances in Photovoltaics, NO ELECTRICAL STORAGE TECHNOLOGY is cost effective for transforming actual photovoltaic intermitentcies ( fast passing cloud outages and OVERNITE power outages with PV ) into cost effective baseload power. The only BASELOAD CAPABLE solar power is Molten Salt Concentrating Thermal, with Molten Salt storage. Cost benchmarking between concentrating solar thermal versus PV hardly acknowledges that virtually any electrical energy storage costs renders Baseload ( batteyr backed ) PV UNAFFORDABLE, versus MS-CSP with MS storage is quite reasonable for the Complete Baseload capable grid scale solution. Soalr cells are toys, we will make huge advances in solar cell efficiencies ( Alta Devices is superb technology), but for BASELOAD ( realistic ) power quality, ANY Photovoltaics SOlution is ill advised ( being polite ). We need the Nevada SoCal desert to have installed ~50-100 GW of MS-CSP/ MS Storage & 100 GW of HVDC grid scale power lines built out from there to major population centers west of the Mississippi, versus all the tomfoolery of adhoc buildtouts of Photovoltaics that is not cost effective to render baseload capable in our lifetime.

rick merritt
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
rick merritt   3/20/2012 5:07:29 AM
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I never heard of this molten salt technology. Can you provide a URL with an objective study about it?

PJames
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
PJames   3/21/2012 2:48:17 AM
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I read some comparisons several years ago. One can probably find something more recent with a bit of googling. With PV costs crashing, I suspect that thermal solar is falling quite a bit behind. It does have storage ability, but it has the drawback of requiring as much water as any steam based power generation, which could be significant issue in the places most ideal for solar. One of the first solar plants to use molten salt was the Solar One in CA which was upgraded in mid 90's with molten salt. I believe the one with the most storage might be in Spain, which can provide 24/7 power in the summer... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemasolar

motti2
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
motti2   3/21/2012 10:13:56 PM
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look up Brightsource / ivanpaugh, and at NREL in CSP work. The key recent enabler / advance is the formulation of lower melting point Molten Nitrate Salts still capable of high temperature operation. ( high temperature capable molten salts transport larger recoverable / operating heat capacity than steam might do otherwise at lower energy density than MS ) The motivation for lower melting point Molten salt formulations is to ease cold start startup - loop heating required to unfreeze the working "fluid" for recirculation through the primary heat transfer pumping loops. The key point of MS CSP is that it is truly BASELOAD capable solar power, ie closest to utility grade, with predictable reliable power production without ridiculously costly electrical storage of any kind. Add a MS tank, and there you go BASELOAD capable.

motti2
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
motti2   3/19/2012 8:59:54 PM
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Larger buildouts of Photovoltaics will merely exacerbate the BASELOAD power quality issues of PV, that presently in California, Natural Gas Power Plants are being deployed and upgraded, to run continuously ( burning NatGas ALL the Time ) for fast dispatch for PV outage remediation in lieu of actual prohibitively expensive electrical Batteries / Power Storage. Rather than a hodge podge Solar "solution", of PV then hugely costly electrical power storage ( esp where pumped hydro is impossible ) we need large scale deployment of MS-CSP / MS Storage that renders a cost effective immediate solution to BASELOAD quality SOLAR POWER NOW. The premature call to deploy PV at scale, reminds me of the purported imperative to deploy wind at scale, which has less predictable power quality than PV. Wind + BASELOAD batteries, is similarly ill advised, better replaced with Solar Updraft Wind Chimneys - which is solar thermal gradient windpower independent of prevailing surface windspeed ( it is a surface to altitude thermal gradient "windpower" )

Neo10
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
Neo10   3/20/2012 6:41:52 AM
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Massive investment is immediately needed in phtovoltaic cell research and optimum energy capture and storage mechnism. At the present we are not in a position to supply a large load just with solar enegery at affordable rates. So instead the focus should be on more research and giving subsidies for hybrid power homes, that which use both locally generated solar power apart from the grid. These moves willl gradually reduce the total demand on the grid and in time we would also have more viable solar cell technology for massive deployment.

DanielRavenNest
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
DanielRavenNest   3/20/2012 7:10:16 PM
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@rick.merritt: Mirrors focus sunlight on a tower with a black absorber. This heats a salt mixture to the melting point, which goes into a large storage tank. The molten salt then heats water to run a standard steam turbine/generator. The main purpose of the salt is to store some of the thermal energy to use when the sun is not shining. The reason to use salt is it's liquid at atmospheric pressure, so the storage tanks don't have to be pressurized.

Dave.Dykstra
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
Dave.Dykstra   3/21/2012 1:04:44 AM
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Our entire energy industry is in need of overall (some of it quite literally), if it is to meet the needs of the next century. That will require massive investment to repair/replace/update and to develop the new technologies required. Solar is one part of the equation and, hopefully, the investment and necessary legal framework will be made.

Dave.Dykstra
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
Dave.Dykstra   3/21/2012 1:14:33 AM
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Oops - meant to write "overhaul" instead of "overall".

seaEE
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
seaEE   3/21/2012 3:32:24 AM
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How do I know that General Clark is more of an expert on solar energy than say, Charles Barkley?

nicolas.mokhoff
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
nicolas.mokhoff   3/21/2012 4:24:08 PM
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Clarke is chairman of the board of investment firm Rodman & Renshaw, and part of his portfolio is to study alternative renewable energy: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=122722&p=irol-govboard. He makes good points.

Robotics Developer
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
Robotics Developer   3/21/2012 6:03:05 PM
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Well I am no expert on solar, just a casual user but it seems that in some areas solar makes a lot of sense. I am not yet ready to jump in full force with solar just yet. I went to a cabin on a mountaintop the past weekend that had 4 solar panels, batteries and an inverter. The system was used to power high efficiency lighting for the cabin and it worked very well. The ease of use and simple setup was refreshing, the cost was not an issue as the solar panels were donated. This was not a full house but a 200 sq ft primitive cabin at elevation with no other source of electricity (nor TV/Cable/internet/etc..). It was nice having real working lights with no need to light a burning fuel! All that said, if solar is going to go big time, there will need to be a lowering in cost for the generation and better means for storing power for night / cloudy times.

rick merritt
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re: Geneneral Clark calls for U.S. solar program
rick merritt   3/21/2012 6:12:04 PM
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The ease of set up is getting better. Westinghouse Solar showed this week a panel with an integrated micro inverter. Just plug the panels in (you can get them at some big box hardware stories) and go. Others will follow.

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