The Reno thread

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Witness
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Re: The Reno thread

Post by Witness » Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:53 pm

A $1 Billion Solar Plant Was Obsolete Before It Ever Went Online

SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes received backing from Citigroup and the Obama Energy Department but couldn’t keep pace with technological advances.

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The Crescent Dunes solar plant looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Ten thousand mirrors form a spiral almost 2 miles wide that winds around a skyscraper rising above the desert between Las Vegas and Reno. The operation soaks up enough heat from the sun’s rays to spin steam turbines and store energy in the form of molten salt.

In 2011 the $1 billion project was to be the biggest solar plant of its kind, and it looked like the future of renewable power. Citigroup Inc. and other financiers invested $140 million with its developer, SolarReserve Inc. Steven Chu, the U.S. Department of Energy secretary at the time, offered the company government loan guarantees, and Harry Reid, then the Senate majority leader and senior senator from Nevada, cleared the way for the company to build on public land.

SolarReserve’s public funding, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Smith told the assembled politicians, “We’re proud to be doing our part to win the future.”

SolarReserve may have done its part, but today the company doesn’t rank among the winners. Instead, it’s mired in litigation and accusations of mismanagement at Crescent Dunes, where taxpayers remain on the hook for $737 million in loan guarantees. Late last year, Crescent Dunes lost its only customer, NV Energy Inc., which cited the plant’s lack of reliability. It’s a victim, ironically, of the solar industry’s success over the past decade. The steam generators at Crescent Dunes require custom parts and a staff of dozens to keep things humming and to conduct regular maintenance. By the time the plant opened in 2015, the increased efficiency of cheap solar panels had already surpassed its technology, and today it’s obsolete—the latest panels can pump out power at a fraction of the cost for decades with just an occasional hosing-down.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ent-online