California Valley solar plant producing power

November 5, 2013

project_gallery_CVSR_2012-07-26_007_smallerThe California Valley Solar Ranch is now operational and delivering enough electricity to power 100,000 homes annually. [Tribune]

The Solar Ranch is one of two photovoltaic plants on the Carrizo Plain. The Topaz Solar Farm, the larger of the two plants, is still under construction and expected to open next year.

Construction of the Solar Ranch began in September 2011 and completed last month. The project employed 700 people.

The plant delivers 250 megawatts of power to PG&E. The Topaz Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt plant.

“Into its nine photovoltaic arrays, CVSR includes a water recycling plant that minimalizes annual water use and a plan for protecting and conserving more than 12,000 acres of land in and around the facility,” said Randy Hickok, senior vice president of plant owner NRG Solar.


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Whoa,here now folks, from what the rag Tribune reported for just the one solar plant out there in Cal valley there was 4700 Ac’s,that would be Four Thousand Seven Hundred Acres under glass for just that one plant to produce enough electric for 100,000 homes,that doesn’t even begin to power San Luis County homes, and its ugly,between both plants its noting but a blight on the landscape. Now the power plant in Morro Bay is already built and set up and produces more electric than that by a long shot but ignorant people want to dismantle it and put a hotel in its place,I would much rather see the MB plant here than glass all over the country side in Cal Valley.

If the state is so up on solar power the money that was wasted to build those plants could have been used to put roof top solar on every house in California,but I’m sure the do gooders wouldn’t want to see roof top solar on every house either.

At the current time (no pun intended) solar is only able to convert 20-25% of the energy

it recieves into electricity; four times less efficient than the most modern nuclear system.

There are a lot more nuclear designs out there being used (France, Germany, U.K.) that

make Diablo look like a dinosaur. Fusion, of course is the penultimate energy source, but little research is being put into it by our country. Why? One reason is the Chairmanship of the House Science/Technology Subcommitte is held by a fundamentalist christian who still

believes that the earth is only 6000 years old and that his make believe friend in the sky created the planet. Besides, he reasons, why plan ahead when J.C. is due anytime now to rapture him!

OMG a secretary of the Interior, J Watt who believed the same trope.

This has been a great episode and I hope for the best. Converting sunlight to electricity has been practical for a long time. Now that nuclear power is proving to be uncertain we will likely return to using less power and sleeping at night, just like the good old days.

I love solar, but it’s SO expensive. At the New York Times estimate of $1.6B for this project (250MW), replacing the power of Diablo would be $14.1B and that would only work when the sun shines…so really about $42B. Up next, your bill.

I hope it pencils out for them! It would be nice to see this kind of stuff done without massive government bribes and such, but we have what we have… pay up, folks.

Excellent!! USA marches on.

Instead of htis, why don’t we just put solar systems on every house and commercial building in CA? It pays for itself.

then, instead of powering 100,000 homes with a centralized plant, we can power 50 million homes and businesses with de-centralized solar.

Because. chocoholic, “distributed solar” which is what you are suggesting happens to be a very good idea but just TRY getting anything slightly “odd” or outside the thinking of the Building Dept people in any jurisdiction. It won’t happen, particularly with SLO County. They will deny you all your kilowatt contributions if it’s not done by a favored licensed contractor whom they like. Thus the need for large projects who can defeat the negative mindset in the SLO County building folks.

We therefore need all the solar we can get, both distributed AND concentrated, and it’s especially useful on unsightly or less-than-desirable remote land which is already near transmission lines. So, you made a GREAT post if you change your first three words from “Instead of this” to “Additional to this”.

Together we can put enough solar up that storage for night technologies such as thermal or rotational will become practical and affordable.

Good Point. I just read today that some of the leading scientists behind the Global Warming Theory, have said that we can’t go to solar and wind power fast enough to stop the warming due to heavy fossil fuel use. They recommend that we go with nuclear too despite the risks it poses. You don’t have to accept their predictions about global climate change but it is interesting that they would endorse nuclear reactors as at least a “necessary evil” in their attempts to get people to counter the warming.

Lame, regarding your first paragraph, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Rooftop solar is quick, easy, fast and cheap to get a permit for. Last time I got one, I took my plans to the building department, handed them across the counter, the guy looked at them, stamped them “approved” and as soon as I paid my fee handed them back to me. The next day we installed the things. Lots easier and quicker than the Carrizo stuff which took years of planning and permitting.

What is stacked against distributed PV power is the utility regulatory bureaucracy, which greases skids to enable big projects, but doesn’t do much to help rooftop. If the subsidies, regulations and all that go into making Carrizo happen were applied to rooftop, rooftop would win in popularity and quantity and speed, hands down.

Jinks, I do know what I am talking about, I know exactly and experientially what I am talking about. Just because you had a cookie cutter plan that fortuitiously met with Building’s approval, two solar installers I spoke to said SLO county is one of California’s worst (toughest and most difficult) from permit standpoints.

How much CASH did YOU spend on a licensed architect to try and get it to fly? I spent plenty. How many clean total MEGAwatt hours have been denied the PG&E grid while my panels sit unused?

Land use is worse. Have you ever tried to make better use of 160 remote county line acres with this county? I have, using professional consultants, and got no where. It just sits. The cattle enjoy it, I think.

Speak for yourself, Jinks, and for your experiences, but don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Autocratic local government is an obstructive joke, from Gibson to Lichtig to Marx to Irons, and sporadically on down from there.