RegGuheert wrote:I've always hated that claim. The idea of putting PV in the desert, simply because there is more insulation there, is a bad one. Just like building this Ivanpah plant at twice the per-kWh price of PV is a bad one. PV is best sited at the load.GRA wrote:It's long been known that a 100 x 100 mile square in the Nevada desert, if covered with PV modules, could meet all our electricity demand (ignoring the need for storage, transmission etc).
I think your last statement is too categorical, so we'll have to disagree on that. Having designed my share of AE systems, my take would be PV (or any other intermittent renewable) is best sited wherever it's best sited. Could be at the load, could be many miles away. Many factors determine where the 'best' place is.
RegGuheert wrote:Regardless of all these complaints, we have a massive quantity of places where PV can be sited that are not being used. Building an expensive solar-thermal plant in pristine desert at twice the price of PV is not a good environmental solution, IMO.GRA wrote:Higher PV efficiencies will help, but at the moment, cities just don't have enough roof/lot space (correctly oriented) to make it work. An awful lot of the 'street' impervious surface in cities is actually primarily for parallel parking, so I suppose you _could_ cantilever panels out over it. Of course, a better usage would be to use that space for buildings and decrease the street widths, thus also reducing the urban heat island effect. I don't remember the specific fractions of space devoted to driving versus parking lanes: the details are almost certainly in Shoup, Donald C.; "The High Cost of Free Parking". The book is quite large, but here's the original paper that was expanded into the book: http://www.uctc.net/papers/351.pdf. I love the quote at the start.
Anyway, the typical U.S. urban/suburban two-lane street has a couple of 10 or 11 foot wide lanes plus an 8 foot parking 'lane' on each side. I can see serious liability issues with cantilevering over the street, though, in addition to any cost, technical or aesthetic objections.
Sure, I'm not saying that rooftop PV isn't a good option in many cases, and there are many places it could go. However, I think you're applying 20/20 hindsight in calling Ivanpah 'expensive', cause when it was designed CSP was cheaper. Although it seems unlikely, that could change back. And you still have to factor in the cost of equivalent storage or other generation when comparing it to PV, before you can call it expensive. The fact is that if not CSP, there'll be lots of PV in the desert.
As to pristine desert, well, very little of the desert is pristine, especially when an Interstate passes through it a couple of hundred yards away; there's also a golf course within a couple of miles. Let's just say 'less directly affected by human activity' and leave it at that.