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back to article 1.5 MW 'demonstrator' solar plant hits the grid

The ribbon's been cut on a 1.5 MW concentrating solar facility at Carwarp, near the Victorian town of Mildura, and the builder hopes the site will one day be expanded to a 100 MW power station. The Solar Systems deployment began delivering power to the grid in pilot mode in late June, with 40 concentrating photovoltaic dishes …

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Now this is the way to go.

Instead of covering our beautiful and picturesque hills with ugly, noisy. scenery-destroying and eye-polluting windfarms, cover the flat, sceneless outback desert with solar cells. Far more efficient, far more productive, and far less destructive of our pleasanter areas.

One only needs to look at the butchery of the coastline around Cape Jervis (35°34'03" S 138°08'02" E) and the hills near Snowtown (33°46'23" S 138°08'11" E) to appreciate what eyesores these windfarms are. Putting solar panels out in the desert where they're in nobody's way and do a far better job of generating power, is a much better way of generating sustainable energy.

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Re: Now this is the way to go.

Actually I quite like the look of wind farms. But the most important question is do they offer value for money?

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Linux

Re: Now this is the way to go.

"Instead of covering our beautiful and picturesque hills with ugly, noisy. scenery-destroying and eye-polluting windfarms, cover the flat, sceneless outback desert with solar cells. Far more efficient, far more productive, and far less destructive of our pleasanter areas." -- NIMBY

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Re: Now this is the way to go.

""Instead of covering our beautiful and picturesque hills with ugly, noisy. scenery-destroying and eye-polluting windfarms,"

While forgetting/ignoring that most of these 'picturesque' hills are the product of intensive industrialisation, frequently achieved by poisoning the land to restrict specific plant growth to grow sheep or cows.

That or cleared for farming, mining etc.etc.

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I like the basic design concept.

Solar panels are expensive, especially the high-efficiency ones, but mirrors are cheap. It therefore makes good sense to cover a large area with mirrors to direct lots of sunlight onto a small area of solar panels.

Also, it will be easy to swap in even better panels in the future (if a significant advance in efficiency is made) and keep the existing mirrors & trackers the same.

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Re: I like the basic design concept.

That's why thermodynamic power plants seem a better design to me than ones using photovoltaic cells. The latter are expensive, hard to recycle, use many pollutants to be produced, when the former are all the opposite. Thermodynamic power plants also enable to store energy as heat so they can also produce electricity when sun is down, when electricity is much harder to store for latter use for PV plants.

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Only half a solution

So they can provide 10c/kWh while the sun shines. How much does it cost to provide night time/cloudy day leccy?

If we still have to build other power stations to provide night time demand then the numbers just don't stack up. All the PV stuff is just extra cost. It does not replace conventional generation cost.

On top of that, the most efficient coal/nuke thermal stations prefer to run with a reasonably constant load to get the best result. Running PV during the day, then cranking up the coal/nukes for the night just does not work out very well.

PV, or other generation, has to actually replace conventional generation otherwise it is just greenwashing bullshit.

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Irrevelant

Why does it have to REPLACE conventional generation? This is such utter bullshit. Only fools think that there should be "one power generation strategy to rule them all". If you want that, you better love coal.

PV is still very useful if it only provides for peak power needs during daytime. Given that Australia gets hot, and is hottest when the sun is shining, PV is ideal for all the extra load that air conditioners put on the grid. Sure, it isn't powering anything at night (barring hydro, hydrogen or battery storage solutions) but almost all electric grids supply much less power at night (no AC, businesses are closed, appliances are off while people sleep, etc)

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Re: Only half a solution

"the most efficient coal/nuke thermal stations"

And how efficient are they?

What efficiency was claimed in the planning stage?

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Re: Irrevelant

So, as soon as the sun goes down, we all stop using our air-conditioners because the temperature immediately becomes tolerable? Peak power needs are only during daylight hours? Ever heard of cooking, kettles, TVs etc? You know, the things people do when they get home, more often than not when it's dark outside.

What was that expression you used? Oh yeah, utter bullshit!

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Re: Irrevelant

When conventional plants aren't operating at their peak they aren't as efficient as they could be and when you have to constantly cycle them between peak and idle you waste massive amounts of energy. The most efficient way to supplement the wildly irregular supply from most renewables is to store excess energy, but this poses its own challenges. If the country is big enough you can also share generation between regions/countries but that requires significant heavy infrastructure to transmit energy efficiently.

Remember that domestic only forms part of base load, that scary thing called 'industry' which provides so much real value to economies often operates on a 24h basis and doesn't shift much. Domestic supply is the most peak intensive because of things like cookers and kettles.

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@Rastus

Go look at utility generation per hour graphs on peak use days if you don't believe me. The peak points are during daylight hours (around 3 to 4pm) NOT in the evening.

Sure, people use air conditioners after dark on hot days, but they aren't cycling on nearly as often or running as long to get back to the desired temperature since you don't have the sun overhead beating down on your house adding a tremendous amount of heat to what your house is getting from the outside air temperature. That's quite a significant factor, as the difference in how hot you feel under the sun and under shade will tell you.

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Anonymous Coward

Why not this night-generating 11MW Spanish plant

Why not copy this Spanish 11MW plant instead, that uses mirros to heat a block that drives a conventional steam turbine generator:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS10_solar_power_plant

No expensive photovoltaics.

Generates power at night.

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Re: Why not this night-generating 11MW Spanish plant

It's also more efficient.

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