If you live in Minnesota you may have seen the story in yesterday’s Strib, the worthless paper that functions solely to reprint stories from other sources and to broadcast progressive talking points. Our Public Utilities Commission, which is supposed to ensure that Minnesotans have access to affordable, reliable energy, is dominated by environmental whackos. (Strib Story) If you read the story you saw that a solar plant supposedly producing 200 megawatts of power was approved on 1553 acres of prime farmland in Dodge County. The conversion of farmland to solar panels, especially in Minnesota, is incredibly stupid. We are losing farmland at a rapid rate and it is critical to our ability to feed ourselves and to help feed the world. But that does not matter to the whackos.
This solar plant will never, ever, in a single day, for a single week, or a single month, produce the “nameplate” capacity of power. In Minnesota, solar power simply isn’t capable of any sustained output, particularly in winter. Dave Dixon points out that to meet the nominal output of the coal plants that are being retired, we would need 33,000 acres of solar power and to meet the actual output given how inefficient solar is, over 100,000 acres would have to be devoted to solar panels. Imagine the cost of this, both land acquisition or rental and building and maintaining the panel farms. These “renewable” energy forms require immense investments in new transmission lines. The energy they produce, unlike coal or gas, isn’t available on demand, so storage has to build. That storage, as Dave’s analysis showed, is phenomenally expensive and takes up even more land.
Imagine too, the environmental damage. Researchers are just beginning to understand the adverse impacts that solar farms and wind turbines have on weather and the climate, particularly on this scale. They also harm wildlife. The mining, manufacturing and disposal of renewable energy equipment has massive environment costs, which again the whackos are happy to ignore.
What isn’t to like about “renewable” energy? It is expensive, it isn’t reliable and it does lots of damage to the environment. Perfect for pro(re)gressives. But here is a silver lining and I bet we will see it in this recently approved plant. People will use the whackos own environmental laws to hold up the construction and operation of these plants and will make many so expensive to build that the owners simply give up. Now that is what I call good karma.
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The Prairie Island nuclear plant(s) take up 112 acres. (Most of that is for containment vessels and auxiliary equipment) and produce 1.08 GW of power. There are 2 units that operate at 95% efficiency and produce no “greenhouse” gases. That is 5 times the maximum output of this solar project which will occupy over 5 sections of land. None of the panels will be recyclable or reusable. The expected lifespan will be 25 years or less at which point they will have lost 45% of their conversion effectiveness. In fact, within 5 years the panels lose 20% of their efficiency and they NEVER operate at the boilerplate capacity in normal operation. This is a tremendous boondoggle.
While I agree solar in MN makes no economic sense, your efficiency loss figures of 20% in five years and 45% loss in twenty five years grossly overstates the loss of solar panels. While it varies depending on manufacture and the specific panel, typical figures are 3% to 5% loss in the first five years with a 15% to 20% loss over the twenty to twenty five year lifetime. The biggest loss is the initial 12 to 18 months (1% to 3% depending on the panel), and then typically 0.2% to 0.5% annual loss after that.
Note that I am not in the solar industry, but have installed solar on my two CA houses since 2017. Mine are installed not as a do-gooder but rather because of the exorbitant electric rates in SDGE (San Diego Gas and Electric) territory. Our summer peak time of day rates (4 pm to 9 pm) will be $0.82 per kilowatt hour. I track my solar production by time period and the per kWh rate, and have avoided over $15,500 of electric charges just in the first 38 months of ownership of this newly constructed house. Given the 24K installed cost less 30% federal tax credit, I will have earned back my entire investment this year.
Be interesting to see the actual cost of rooftop solar, which would not work in Minnesota due to our winters, if you took out the tax subsidy, and had to be fully dependent, with no backup from the grid. What would enough battery storage at your house cost or backup from other sources of power at the house when you had no solar generation? It works for you, which is good, but only because there is a grid for backup, and the ridiculous subsidies.
“200 megawatts of power was approved on 1553 acres”
The Decordova gas electric plant in Grandbury texas produces 260mw on approx 20 acres.
Under the current Net Metering rules (NEM 2.0 as it is called), one gets to only settle up with the electric company once a year. Your daily solar production is going to vary day by day and month by month. Last year I generated slightly more than 15,000 kWh, with monthly production varying between about 800 to 1500 kWh per month. Over the year, I used approximately 13,400 kWh, and was paid about $0.06 per kWh at the end of the 12 month period for those 1,600 excess kWh. Because I had built a new house in 2019 (completed 1/2020), I didn’t know what my yearly use might be. My first year I had an excess of 3,000 kWh after only 9 months. So do to Fed and CA tax credits, and crazy manufacture rebates, I bought a plug in hybrid to make use of the excess kWh. With tax credits, dealer disount, and Chrysler rebates, I ended up getting 17K off a 50K msrp. Due to most of my trips being local in this vehicle, my gas costs have been about $400 a year for 10k miles of use. I still had too many kWh, so a year later I bought a second plug in hybrid, again saving about 12k off a 31k MSRP (bought a 2020 model (still new) in 3/2021. Again 10,000 miles use, rarely buying $5 CA gas.
All purchases, solar and cars, for me have been economic decisions.
As to your solar battery question, they make zero economic sense when you have net metering, as the grid in an infinite battery for an entire year and then you settle up. Batteries are very expensive, and you are never going to be able to have a battery bank large enough to cover the days when you need them and there is low solar production. For example, if I am not charging either hybrid or running A/C, by electric use is between 18 to 21 kWh per day. If I charge both hybrids on the same day, that’s 20 kWh to charge, and this will give me about 29 miles in one vehicle and 32 miles in the other – that’s it! On a rainy day, like today, I’ll produce about 15 kWH. And if it was sunny, I’d produce about 52 kWh. We’ve been storm after storm this year, so several multiple days of low solar production. I’d need a hundred kWh of batteries to cover car charging. Local battery storage is just not feasible.
As to the “ridiculous” subsidies, I can’t disagree. But with them in place, it would be ridiculous of me to not use them to my economic advantage.
If it was a rational non brainwashed public and politicians, we would be building nuclear plants and scrapping these solar and wind production boondoggles.
We discontinued our StarTribune subscription 4 or 5 years ago (way too much bullshit and propaganda).
I did stumble onto a way to view the new energy story.
The comments section is the most informative, in the sense that it reveals the ignorance, hubris
and incompetence of the commenters (and the StarTribune writers). They do not understand the
“Unicorn energy policies.” – Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)
The value of installing solar over wind is that can’t see whether the panels are working or not. When the wind doesn’t blow you can see the blades are sitting still. That has been my assumption why solar farms are being built over wind farms right now.
living in the land of rocks and cows I am in favor of neither sources of energy, but I understand why they are being built. Many of these farms fields are being turned over to “renewables” by farmers at or near retirement. Renewables are returning better rent rates per acre than farmland is.