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Worried about cost over-runs? Build Solar...

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by nwdiver, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Member

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    What do you mean "Speaks for itself..."?

    Over-simplification is what is speaking, here. Since Vogtle is going to produce the same energy as 40,000 acres of solar panels, you just have to point out where they are all going to go?

    In the other thread, we broke down how even a 15bb nuke plant ends up producing kilowatt hours for about $.05 each. But it isn't about that to you, is it? We're better off with existing coal, natural gas and as close to the 40,000 acres of panels, that GA and FL can get. If we keep saying this, maybe it will come true.
     
  2. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #3 nwdiver, Dec 15, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
    I meant the article I linked to speaks for itself... but more specifically the graph...

    sovacool-et-al-overuns-by-class.png

    When you consider that ~90% of nuclear projects have cost over runs that on average ~double the original cost estimate compared to ~5% with cost over runs for PV projects.

    There are an estimated 800 million parking spaces in the US. Each can support ~2kW of solar PV. That would generate >2000TWh annually. The US uses ~4000TWh annually. That doesn't even count rooftops, roadsides and 'brownspaces'. We've got MORE than enough room for solar.

    sm_EldorSolarCarportCohalan.png

    6.jpg

    The 20 levelized CAPITAL cost of a $7.5B 1GW nuclear plant is ~$0.05/kWh but the O&M costs are ~$0.02/kWh for a total of ~$0.07/kWh. That's also assuming a capacity factor of 90%. Solar is already pushing Diablo Canyon to 80% which would increase the average cost of power ~10%.

    The largest hurdle for US solar is 'soft costs' (non-equipment). Anyone with moderate electrical knowledge can install their own PV system for <$1.50/w. That's $0.045/kWh assuming a capacity factor of 19%. By 2020 that cost should be <$1/w or $0.03/kWh.
     
  3. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    My key take-away from this article is that system planners should be evaluating technology choices based on realistic installed costs. In my experience, planning is typically done using project costs that have only small contingency funds. If instead they added in realistic expectations for overruns, their choices would be better informed.

    It's worth noting that the article had as much praise for wind as it did for solar. It seems that highly modular technologies are the way to go, where almost everything can be manufactured elsewhere and installed in a field. The more 'balance of plant' work that has to be done on-site, the greater the risk and size of overruns.
     
  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    This is what Nuscale is hoping to achieve. They want to build a reactor factory where most of the building can be done off-site. Unfortunately it's likely to be too little too late for the industry. They'll be lucky if their first plant goes on-line before 2025. IMO it's a near certainty that the grid will be very inhospitable to generators seeking high capacity factors in 10 years...

    http://www.nuscalepower.com
     
  5. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Member

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    Cost-over runs aren't relevant. Cost is. Case in point, American Muni Power is refinancing its costs for the wildly jacked up Prairie State pulverized coal plant, this week. Including the mine, S&P is remarking its 1,582MW are up to 5 billion. That's $3.16/watt, before sub-100% capacity factors. It isn't relevant who broke their estimate, or that this plant was supposed to deliver @~$1.50/watt. It's where $$ landed. On that score, Vogtle has already had added costs, and sits currently at about $7 ($7.70 @90%CF). Topaz solar, perhaps the biggest CA commercial PV, is looking at $2bb, for 550MW, but its solar so you have to wash in the much lower capacity factors associated with sun (15%-25%). That takes $3.63/watt up to $14.50 per watt of usable solar capacity. This also carried a price tag for a couple thousand acres of, presumably cheap bright, desert land.

    You want to point at cost over runs, but I say look at cost.

    Your previous points are well taken, with roof tops and car ports. I met some of Walmart's team, a few days ago. >100MW on their stores, but no plans for car ports because of the price and liability, versus roof mounts and limited ground mounts. Maybe they will get there, but consider just Topaz (try Google image) will require about 8 million panels. This is what raises my blood temps, when other forms of CO2-free energy are targeted as a horse trade. The perspective is impractical.

    FYI, Those images of topaz replace a little more than 1/10th the output of the coal plant above (80%CF, on 1,582MW vs. 25%CF on 550MW STC-rated). We can do this math over, and over, again to see the wood solar has to chop, or clarify what we ask of ourselves if we want to go after the fossil elephant.
     
  6. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    @3mp_kwh: when comparing power source costs, the calculation needs to look at (a) capital construction costs, (b) maintenance costs, i.e. future capex, (c) operations costs, including fuel and personnel, and (d) decommissioning costs.

    Solar and wind are much lower-cost in (c) and (d), and solar is good on (b).
     
  7. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #8 nwdiver, Dec 16, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
    Cost can be a tricky thing to pin down in regards to solar PV... which now that I really think about it probably has more to do with it's favorable 'cost over-run' numbers than anything else. Topaz was started in 2011 and was expanded for ~3 years. Was the $3.63/w figure from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 or a weighted average? Solar costs were ~40% higher when the project started than when it was completed... LOL... that probably played a major role in the low cost over-runs.

    IMO more important than present costs are where costs are heading. In other words... if building this 500MW plant is going to make a planned 1GW plant cheaper then paying slightly more today might be worth it... Germany helped drive economies of scale by heavily subsidizing $10/w solar so the world can now enjoy $2/w solar.

    We've been building thermal plants for nearly a 100 years and the costs have only gone up. The drop in the cost of photovoltaics have exceeded even the most optimistic projections.

    http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/62558.pdf

    Which cost curve do you want to ride?

    Solar-Nuclear_graph.jpg
     

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