With fossil fuels…… you can do ANYTHING!

14 02 2014

The much heralded Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power station in California is being commissioned as I type.  Mighty impressive too….  Sprawling across almost thirteen square kilometres of land near the California-Nevada border, it looks pretty damn beautiful…….


Take 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each 2 metres high and 3 metres wide, control them with computers to focus the Sun’s light to the top of 150 metre high towers where water is heated to steam, to power turbines, and….. Ta dah…: you have the world’s biggest solar power plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

Long-mired by regulatory issues and legal tangles, the enormous solar plant–jointly-owned by NRG EnergyBrightSource Energy and Google opened for business today…….

From the official news release:

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now operational and delivering solar electricity to California customers. At full capacity, the facility’s trio of 450-foot high towers produces a gross total of 392 megawatts (MW) of solar power, enough electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.

BUT……  check out how much steel and concrete has gone into this beast…  how much embodied energy are we looking at..?  anyone trying to tell you this can’t be done without fossil fuels had better watch this…:

Now I’m not saying this shouldn’t be done, and I agree it is an engineering marvel, but I still ask, how will this sort of construction continue, let alone maintenance and eventual replacement post Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Uranium, and Peak Debt…..  Just asking.

More photos here…