The World’s Largest Solar Plant Just Torched Itself

Ouch.

Misaligned mirrors are being blamed for a fire that broke out yesterday at the world’s largest solar power plant, leaving the high-tech facility crippled for the time being. It sounds like the plant’s workers suffered through a real hellscape, too.

Damaged steam ducts and water pipes. (Image: San Bernardino County Fire Department via AP)

A small fire was reported yesterday morning at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) in California, forcing a temporary shutdown of the facility. It’s now running at a third of its capacity (a second tower is down due to scheduled maintenance), and it’s not immediately clear when the damaged tower will restart. It’s also unclear how the incident will impact California’s electricity supply.

Putting out the blaze was not easy task, either. Firefighters were forced to climb 300 feet up a boiler tower to get to the scene. Officials said the fire was located about two-thirds up the tower. Workers at the plant actually managed to subdue the flames by the time firefighters reached the spot, and it was officially extinguished about 20 minutes after it started.

Phrase of the Day: Duck Curve

The problem with solar power on a state wide basis is that it peaks at mid day while “everyone” is at work and no one is doing laundry or cooking dinner or turning on the A/C at the end of a long hot day at work or school.

There is a real risk of overgeneration which means you need to dump electricity somewhere or quickly shutdown any non-solar power you can.

And then kids start coming home from school and then the sun starts to go down and the parents come home and put something in the oven and maybe do a load of laundry and plug in the hybrid car.

And suddenly you need 13,000MW of power to pump into the grid.

And the demand curve looks like a duck.

The surge in intermittent solar power will test the statewide electricity grid because it exacerbates the need for alternative sources such as gas outside of daylight hours. Regulators have warned it’ll make California more vulnerable to price spikes and power disruptions.

4CAISO03-16-2014

German Electricity Week 14 2016

Germany is planning to rely on wind and solar. Last week on April 8th, wind and solar combined for 0.94GW out of 55GW.

Averages don’t keep the electricity on. They will need lots more brown coal when they shut down the nuclear power stations.

Germany_Week_14_2016

The whole week (just solar and wind). Yes, sometimes combined they generate a lot of electricity.

But on April 8th Germany went almost a 1.5 days where almost nothing was generated by wind.

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Word of the Day: Dunkelflaute

Word of the day:

In German, the term Dunkelflaute is used to describe the predicament. Dunkel means “dark”; solar is simply not available half the time, and solar power production is significant for only around six hours a day even when the sun is shining. Flaute is “doldrums” – when the wind is not blowing. So the “dark doldrums” are times when solar and wind power is not available in sufficient amounts.

This chart is just wind+solar for March in Germany. Red lines are periods less than 5GW.

APr_8_2016

Oooops. Germany Forgot About Eclipses

Oooops. Germany Forgot About Eclipses and their effect on a power grid with lots of expensive solar.

The German power grid operators are dreading March 20, 2015. On this day Germany will see a partial solar eclipse during the morning. Should there be no clouds in the sky at this time, all solar power generating systems all over the country would be feeding in drastically less power into the grid in just a matter of minutes – and the grids would become dangerously destabilized.”

Read the rest at NoTricksZone.

 

Conservation group sues to stop California solar plant

It’s only fair …

“LOS ANGELES – A U.S. conversation group has sued the federal government over its approval of a major solar power plant in the California desert, the latest in a string of challenges to the nation’s renewable energy goals from the environmental community.

According to court papers, the non-profit Western Watersheds Project alleged U.S. regulators approved Brightsource Energy’s 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar energy plant without conducting adequate environmental reviews, and asked the court to order the defendants to withdraw their approvals.”

“”In an ill-conceived rush to accommodate massive renewable energy projects … the federal defendants precipitously approved unnecessarily destructive energy development of the California Desert Conservation Area without first conducting adequate environmental reviews.The complaint said the project’s approval process failed to analyze and mitigate the Ivanpah plant’s impact on migratory birds, the desert tortoise, which is a threatened species under federal law, desert bighorn sheep, groundwater resources and rare plants.“”

Original Article