Casting a shadow on solar energy?

Saturday, April 2, 2016
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

solar, geothermal power plantAccording to one economist who continues to shed light on a solar failing solar project, a lack of money is not the reason why it is not delivering.

BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar thermal plant in California has been under scrutiny by economic experts in recent years. Unlike operations that use solar panels to directly convert sunshine into electricity, solar thermal plants use sunshine to heat a fluid to high temperatures and drive conventional turbines. This process at the Golden State facility has been the center of the investigation.

Considered by some to be a technological marvel, Ivanpah has its critics, including David Kreutzer, Ph.D., Research Fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change at The Heritage Foundation. He's been following the project for years, offering details for The Daily Signal and OneNewsNow.

"We've guaranteed loans of $1.6 billion, which look like they might be at risk" Kreutzer says. "They're also seeking a half billion dollars or more in tax credits so they can help pay off the loan."

Kreutzer adds that rate payers in California are going to be paying more for the electricity because 100 percent of what the plant was supposed to produce has been contracted with the California utilities so they could meet their renewable power standard.

"So, and the price at which they're selling it was two, three, four, five times the cost of other electricity," the economist continued.

But is this the usual procedure when it comes to big, solar energy efforts? Kreutzer explains that this is not exactly true.

"They're all over the board, but they all seem to need either mandates or subsidies to make them work," the economic expert contends.

Still, one of the arguments people in favor of solar and other alternative energies is that we don't have to pay for the source, in this case, sunlight. Meanwhile, solar energy supporters say it's more environmentally friendly than using oil and gas — but does this make solar energy the ideal source?

"They've been saying that for decades," Kreutzer asserts. "We should also note that oil doesn't produce any significant amount of electricity in the U.S., so, there's really no competition between oil and solar, [but] there is between natural gas, [as] we are now producing more electricity with natural gas than any other single source."

Kreutzer adds that problems continuing to plague solar power operations involve storage and production after sundown.

BrightSource did not immediately return OneNewsNow's request for comment.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of solar thermal power plants.

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