More folks are opining on the 60 Minutes Greentech piece. The discussion is important. A green reporter who has a spent a lot of time following the industry posted this link on Gigaom
She has many valid points in her blog. But certainly got the Ivanpah project wrong when she stated:
“Even within the loan program, there were more wins than the 60 Minutes piece let on, like the Ivanpah solar farm that created a lot of jobs outside of Las Vegas. The U.S. government needs to give more support to next-generation energy technologies, not less.”
Ivanpah is a concentrated solar thermal project that has turned out to be expensive and has been significantly delayed in startup. Ivanpah is also battling a problem of killing birds that fly through the concentrated sunlight and get burned. It is not the next generation in solar electric power it is probably the Betamax of solar electric power.
The Phase 1 of the Ivanpah project sells power to PG&E at approximately 20 cents per kilowatt hour. PG&E can now purchase power from a similar sized PV farm for half this price without ant dead birds. We the customers of PG&E are stuck with an above cost long term power purchase agreement. Of course it is our monthly money that will keep the Ivanpah project solvent and pay back the DOE loans.
Ivanpah is only a “success” because we the people will continue to subsidize an overpriced contract for the purchase of the power. The DOE will chalk it up as a successful project and folks like Ms. Ferenbacher will extol the virtues of the jobs created.
Let us assume that 30 permanent jobs are associated are associated with Phase 1 that will generate 129 megawatts. The entire project with three phases will create 86 permanent jobs. Let’s assume the capacity factor is 25%. Doing the requisite math the extra 10 cents per kwh of overpayment by the customers of PG&E amounts to $28,251,000 per year. We the customers of PG&E are paying approximately one million dollars a year for the next twenty years for each permanent job the project created. When folks like Ms. Ferenbacher can actually do arithmetic they should report that the US DOE should never repeat a project like this. Not only do the birds get burned we the customers of PG&E got really burned