back to article California inches toward 300 megawatt solar plant

The California Energy Commission has accepted a construction application from solar startup BrightSource Energy to build a 300 megawatt solar plant in the high desert — the first large solar thermal facility proposed for California in 16 years. The 3,400-acre complex would be built near Ivanpah Dry Lake in San Bernardino …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Near where I live...

    This isn't far from where I live. There's already a 20-something megawatt system similar to that in the Mojave Desert. It's been in operation since I was a kid. I couldn't think of a better place to put it; where they're planning to build it, it's sunny almost 365 days a year.

  2. Jan

    If only we could harness the power of overcast & cloudy weather.

    The possibilities for the UK would be endless.

    Instead my Solar Water Heater produces limitless hot water enabling me to have lengthy hot showers using up prolific amounts of water during the hose pipe ban, but is basically disfunctional around Sept. Despite what people say there is simply not enough sun time during late autumn no matter what the ambiant temperature. And the Govt estimates a 25 year repayment if you factor in the NPV of your investment. :-( Luckily it was the previous owners who shelled out all the cash and not me.

  3. xjy

    At last

    With a bit of luck, as this thing nears completion over the next couple of years, we'll be seeing a lot of desperate copycats jumping on the bandwagon. The same way as next year should probably see a huge increase in small-scale wind turbines and solar generators for domestic and small business use. Fun watching an explosion in ultra-slow-motion like this...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What does "could care less" mean?

  5. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    @What does "could care less" mean?

    "could care less" is a very odd americanism as, I'm sure, several people in front of me in the queue are also explaining. It means "couldn't care less".

    Doesn't make much sense to me, but apparently it works. I'm just trying to figure out why a nominally British webloid would be using an american phrase like that. Oh well.

  6. Bemi Faison
    Black Helicopters

    Big Oil & Coal

    Hmmm... I recall California setting a goal to have a percentage of zero-emission cars by now. Guess who killed that initiative? With some 100-Trillion dollars worth of oil business left and enough coal to burn (and burn), I can't see how history won't repeat itself.

    Who killed the electric car? Watch the movie and you'll find the same culprits that will make this another pipe-dream.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @Bemi Faison

    The difference is there these systems are already up and running (and have been for very many years) showing absolutely no sign of sudden unexplained catastrophic failure.

  8. Eugene Goodrich

    Re: big oil & coal: Goals don't mean squat by themselves

    It's well and fine for California to set goals, but it doesn't mean someone else is going to act in a manner that's poor for their business to make those goals happen. There has to be a workable way to get from the starting point to the goals. And until the details of such workable ways (subsidies or tax breaks, or public investment) are reported, I'm not going to just assume they're extant and sufficient.

  9. stolennomenclature

    meanwhile the bad guys are?

    Meanwhile the large coal, gas and nuclear companies are presumably sitting on their thumbs and spinning quietly while their lucrative planet-destroying bunsinesses are sliding down inexorably down the proverbial? Somehow I doubt that. They will find some way to torpedo the plans.

    Just browse the web and look at how many start up companies with innocative energy technologies suddenly get bought out just before a trial plant is constructed. The same thing is happening with maglev and monorail train technology. Too many companies make truckloads out of the inferior wheel-on-rail tech to allow maglev to get off the ground.

    Only when the world is on the brink of total disaster and when its too late to do anything will people come to their senses and open the door to these new technologies. We are not there yet. Another couple of decades should do the trick. Fortunately i will be dead by then.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    could care less

    I suppose if you were to dig up a few 2000 year dead mayans, and they could overcome their apathy, they might be able to care less than they do now.

    Where's L'Academe Anglaisé when you need them?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not a simple matter...

    Much of the public discussion of alternative energy is by people who know little or nothing about science and the issues involved. Emotions run high. People are passionate about their positions, without even understanding what the consequences of them may be. In fact, even amongst scientists there is enormous disagreement, often fueled by "research" paid for by special interest groups.

    Solar energy is great, if you've got the sun for it. However, it is not without its own problems, including pollution from processes used to create solar panels, and the need for extensive land area to be used. Wind farms, geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, and other possibilities all have a downside that is overlooked or minimized by their proponents, exaggerated by their opponents.

    Most of us, not being scientists, must rely on watered-down, inaccurate, often politically motivated reports. Public sentiment goes to the most convincing, not to the most accurate. Unfortunately, the public tends to accept the reports that are the most palatable - that is, "you can have it all, you don't have to change anything, and it will all be fine". Then when the material strikes the fan all hell breaks loose and there is a great call to "do something". By then it's often a bit late for taking meaningful action.

    Of course money controls the issue. Money controls all the issues. All those explanations about "justice", "democracy", "freedom" are utter crap; it's about money. As long as it is more economical in the *short* run to use fossil fuels, that is what will happen. As that great humanitarian and all-round genius, George W. Bush commented, we are addicted to oil. Like any junkie, we gladly sell our soul for yet another fix, even as we know the stuff is killing us. Like any other active addiction, it progresses until either the victim dies, or the source dries up. Unless we find a way to "detox", we're hosed.

    You can blame the "bad guys" all you want, but they're only the pushers - or, since they're legal, the bartenders. They give us what we demand, scream for, insist upon. If we were a tenth as insistent on getting solar power, they'd be flocking to that technology - as they will do, eventually, once the petroleum runs out.

  12. Brett Brennan

    As Seen in the Movies...

    The cult classic "Baghdad Cafe" has some scenes of the old Dagget, California solar power demonstration plant running. This was built during Jimmy Carter's days of alternative energy, and was a bright beacon (like a second sun) shining off the freeway. It was shut down 10 or so years ago, and has recently been dismantled to some degree, but was pretty awesome to see in its day. While Dagget had several demonstration power generation facilities in operation (including a coal gassification plant), this power station used the same principle as the new proposal: a poiler tank atop a tower, surrounded by a reflector field. The boiler, black when cool, would heat to white incandescence when operating. Excess heat was stored in a stone-filled tank to operate the facility at night.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    How quaint, 88.2kw per acre.

  14. Nexox Enigma

    Surprised that they're using water...

    Most of the modern designs that I've seen for this sort of plant use molten salts to transport and store the thermal energy. You can store enormous amounts of heat in a phase change like that to keep running at night.

    Too bad they have to waste ~2/3 of the thermal energy in conversion to electricity. Oh well, can't very well break the first or second laws of thermodynamics now, can we?

  15. Steve Sorensen

    Re: Near where I live... & As Seen in the Movies...

    The 150 MW (354 MW peak, with gas) solar plant "farm" at Kramer Junction is the immediate follow-on to the first one at Daggett. Both solar 'farms' are still in operation. (

    They're noble uses for that "useless wretched wasteland" of a desert that I used to motocross through and camp on extensively as a youth. :-/

  16. George Madison

    Solar Water Heaters - for where they work.

    Here in Los Angeles - and other places in the sunbelt - I really don't understand why solar water heaters aren't mandatory. Sure, there will still be a need for supplemental heating - but here, they'd pay off fast and save energy for years after.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Power already Costa notalot

    See this on the Beeb

  18. Tom

    "could care less"

    British people say that they couldn't care less. US people say they could care less, but it wouldn't be worth the effort. Only they shorten it.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    L'Academe Anglaisé

    It is evident that the AC in question does not know know French. It would be "L'Academie Anglaise", not the aforementioned. And it's "couldn't care less". One could swear that the British have never learned how to speak their own language.

  20. andy gibson

    @Bemi Faison

    Who killed off the electric car? Wasn't it The Stonecutters?

  21. Matthew

    Reg Units

    And what is the reg ubit for power consumption? May I suggest 1 small-city-the-size-of-Birmingham (abbrev. birm's)?

  22. Carl Pearson

    Silicon vs Plastic

    Whatever happened to the Solar Tower project they were working on down in Australia? (

    Seems covering the land surrounding the generator with a huge tarp (sic) & feeding the resulting hot air past the tower's turbines would cost *much* less than building scads of movable mirrors.

    Historically, sand and gears have not been the best of friends; keeping moving parts to a minimum is always a good idea, no matter what you're designing.

    IIRC, the Australian project was a 1 kilometer tall tower that would produce up to 200 MW of electricity. Based on a 60 foot tall German prototype built in the 90's, it relies on the temperature differential between the ground and the top of the tower to draw air past some 30 turbines located around its base.

    The tarp sits a few feet above the surface of the ground surrounding the tower, basically acting as a greenhouse to heat the air. As its only method of escape is through the top of the "chimney", the air will move of its own accord past the turbines.

  23. David Ramsden

    Video of a similar power plant on uTube

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "could care less"

    "I could care less... but not much"

    is how I've heard it explained.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Playing the victim, instead of accepting your own fault for failure.

    so, until the enviroNazis find there's the rare Spotted Sand Slug living in the area, or too many illegal immigrants are inconvenienced by it's location, or the amount of heat being absorbed (instead of reflected) upsets the Algoreans...

    *That* is why the wind turbines aren't being built. Idiots and their lawyers. *That* is what "killed" your precious electric car. The same enviro whackjobs you worshipped when they hugged trees, now in a bid to stay relevant they destroy dams, burn housing developments, try to force massive toxic waste spillage, spike trees to death, and block every decent effort to improve American environment while maintaining or even improving the American quality of life.

    These folks were never about the environment. They were about ego, they were about intolerance, and they were about damaging American industry and culture, so that overseas corporations could get the benefits of American industry failures and successes without having to invest a single cent in research or risk.

    But, go ahead, blame some nefarious/nebulous Big Oil conspiracy for the sabotage your own idols deliberately create. Ignore the fact the small "innovators" failed because they sought inappropriate profit without proper investment in their 'ideas". Blame the "fat lazy American public" that keeps dreaming and trying for ideals that are then taken advantage of and robbed by junk-science failed politicians and con-artist "enterpreneurs".

  26. Jim
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Playing the victim...

    Why are these overly emotive, overly generalised, lacking in fact posts always anon? Shame really, as there are some very valid points made in there somewhere...

    And to add to the could/n't care less debate, why do merkins say "lucked out" when they mean "to have been fortunate"?

  27. John

    "could care less"

    I direct you all to the caring continuum;

    "Could care less" shows a degree of care whereas "Couldn't (could not) care less" implies zero care about something.

    So, maybe the Mayans could care less, but it might depend on what mood they're in.

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