Taxpayer-backed solar plant actually a carbon polluter

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Fox News: Even as the Obama administration announces another $120 million in grants to boost solar energy, new reports indicate a centerpiece of the administration’s green-energy effort is actually a carbon polluter.
Located in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System benefited from a $1.6 billion Energy Department loan guarantee, and a $539 million Treasury Department stimulus grant to help pay off the loan.

Tax dollars at work...

Tax dollars at work…

Yet it is producing carbon emissions at nearly twice the amount that compels power plants and companies to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program. That’s because the plant relies on natural gas as a supplementary fuel. 
According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the plant burned enough natural gas in 2014 to emit 46,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. But Ivanpah, while in the cap-and-trade program, is still considered a renewable energy source because it technically produces most its energy from solar.  Built by BrightSource Energy Inc. and operated by NRG Energy, the Ivanpah project has been mired in controversy from the start.
Taxpayer advocates object to the federal support. Environmentalists say it would hurt the endangered desert tortoise and lament that 3,500 birds were “fried” by the heat produced by the plant in its first year. 
But the natural gas factor raises the fundamental question of whether this plant — and others — are undercutting their own green energy gains by emitting carbon pollution in the process, while not producing anywhere near the level of electricity of a regular power plant.  “This is a prime example of when good intentions go bad,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute.
Solar and wind power plants typically require some form of supplemental fuel, to deal with weather changes.  Natural gas, used at several California operations, can be used during the evenings to help protect against overnight freezing and temperature changes that can hurt equipment. Yet while natural gas is not as environmentally damaging as coal or oil, it is a fossil fuel generally not considered “green.”
Ivanpah’s original license allowed it to use millions of cubic feet of natural gas with the understanding the total would not exceed 5 percent of the energy the project gets from sunlight. BrightSource originally estimated the plant’s main auxiliary boilers would use the gas for an average of an hour per day. 
But in March 2014, they petitioned the California Energy Commission for permission to increase that to roughly 4.5 hours per dayIn the petition, they cited a need to protect equipment and “maximize solar electricity generation.”
The company defended the plant operations.  “Less than 5 percent of electricity generated is attributed to natural gas, which … qualifies 100 percent of the plant generation as renewable,” NRG spokesman David Knox wrote in an email. Michael Ward, information officer for the California Energy Commission which provided the emissions data, confirmed that Ivanpah indeed falls below the 5 percent mark.
But the 5 percent figure does not tell the whole story — as California does not account for emissions produced when a power plant is not generating electricity, according to Ward. So the actual percentage of natural gas use could well be higher.
“If it were any other energy industry besides solar, the plant never would not have been built,” said David Lamfrom, director of California desert and national wildlife programs at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
Lamfrom said that “political pressure pushed this project through without proper input from the taxpayers and without them being adequately informed of exactly what kind of project this was.”  He said officials “generated enough momentum to make this project happen in order to meet the [deadlines for] the stimulus funding.”
According to Lamfrom, designers also erred in placing Ivanpah between the tallest mountains in the Mojave where there is significant cloud cover and dust which would interfere with the sunlight. 
are you serious
Burnett noted that low sunlight only increases the use of natural gas: “You can make solar power as cheap as you want. If the sun is not shining, or it is cloudy or rainy, it will require natural gas to ramp up [the plant] quickly when solar power goes offline. They say it is green, but that assumes that there is a power source without any environmental impact.”

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0 responses to “Taxpayer-backed solar plant actually a carbon polluter

  1. And not a word from Al Gore. Where’s the outrage, environmentalists?

  2. I am going to play the devil’s advocate here, so I know the comments will not be nice. BUT, solar does unusually well when done on a small scale like individual homes. Yes, there needs to be a back up system. The TV show “This Old House” recently ran a show that showcased Germany’s solar energy program. Hard telling what it will be like once the foreign invaders get through with it, that is beside the point. The show did not go into the minute details. The solar systems where installed in individual homes. There are several other countries that have taken solar systems to new heights. I am thinking France is one of them. There is also a magazine that advocates home energy systems called ‘Home Power’.
    Our biggest problem with any alternative form of energy is the all-or-nothing approach. Solar is wonderful for small scale installations. So why doesn’t the local electric company promote solar for individual homes — we farm so there is no way we will ever get rid of fossal fuel for equipment — and set up a loan program to install solar and buy back what is not used for part of their electrical needs. Where I live, wind power is simply not an option, although I realize some places it would be a better option instead of solar. Wouldn’t it be better to obtain half of your energy needs from the sun and/or wind depending on where you are located, and save that much fossil fuel useage for another use say the tractor.
    I just think that until we, as a society, embrace all energy options, decide what is best for any given situation or location, we will continue to fight wars over fossil fuel. That war may be with Gore against his global warming (by the why God Almighty is in charge of the weather), OPEC because they know they can control the world with their oil output, or the problems with shale oil which in places ruins the groundwater.
    Ok, let the you-don’t-know-what-your-talking-about, comments begin.
    PS: Here is another scenario that makes no sense to me. We have electricity. The local electric coop provides that to us for a monthly fee, and you had better not be late. High speed internet is not available to us. Why doesn’t the electric company work with the cable company to get us high speed internet? Because neither company wants to give up their turf! Gone are the days where companies ask themselvs, how can we work together to better serve the needs of those in this community, in this area?

    • I agree we should embrace all energy options. My post was to expose that even when government has “good intentions”, they find a way to muck it up!

  3. Thank you for blowing the lid of another government scandal, DCG.

  4. Excellent post. I did not really think it out enough to realize that there was an alternate energy source needed. My concern with solar panels (I take this from something I read) is that the solar panel company actually owns the panels. They actually have a lien on the property on which they are installed; there have been issues when property owners try to sell their homes due to these liens on the property. I wouldn’t like to have my rights over the property abbreviated due to the solar panel companies lien. Just a thought. My neighbor across the street installed probably 9 panels and going into it she was praising the situation to the sky. I wonder how it has worked out for them, I will have to ask one of these days.

  5. Reblogged this on Lost Dudeist Astrology.

  6. I think in my area,wind and solar would work fine,as long as the Government doesn’t get involved in it.

  7. “… it is producing carbon emissions at nearly twice the amount that compels power plants and companies to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program….”
    “In the United States, the cap-and-trade is an approach designed to control carbon emissions and will impose huge costs upon American citizens via a carbon tax on all goods and services produced in the United States. The average family of four can expect to pay an additional $1700, or £1,043, more each year. It is predicted that the United States will lose more than 2 million jobs each year as the result of cap-and-trade schemes.” -The European Foundation, Dec 15, 2009
    ”Climate data tell us that the human impact on Earth’s climate is very small, and that any warming due to GH gases will be so small as to be indiscernable from natural variability. The costs of trying to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions vastly exceed the benefits. Annual cost to U.S. households would run to some $3900 and would destroy millions of jobs.” -Dr. S. Fred Singer, founding director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and more recently as vice chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere.

  8. just goes to show that it’s not about protecting the environment, it’s about padding the wallets

  9. If solar panels were cost efficient for homeowners, they would be clamoring to install them and there would be no need for government subsidies cronyism.

  10. This might sound controversial, but Natural Gas isn’t a fossil fuel. Furthermore, there are NO SUCH THING as fossil fuels. Also, petroleum, natural gas isn’t scarce either…its abiotic; meaning it doesn’t derive from formerly living things, it’s produced by the Earth, itself. Deceased retired Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty elucidates this point well on YouTube interview regarding the origin of Oil as a “fossil fuel” in 1892, and F. William Engdahl recently wrote a piece regarding Soviet scientists in the 1950’s proving the fossil fuel theory invalid. Environmentalism isn’t about “saving” the Earth; its about ENSLAVING the Earth under the guise of the New World religion. Environmentalists are dupes.

  11. “Deceased retired Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty elucidates this point well on YouTube interview regarding the origin of Oil as a “fossil fuel” in 1892, and F. William Engdahl recently wrote a piece regarding Soviet scientists in the 1950’s proving the fossil fuel theory invalid.”
    How much information has been brought forth proving the opposite is true? Enough that over the years,Billions have been invested in the oil and gas industry based on Fossil Fuels. you’ve presented TWO forms of proof to the contrary of common knowledge,the most recent being over 60 years old. If this is the truth,why isn’t it better known and more widely researched?


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