Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BrightSource dimming

"Sunflower" in a comment yesterday on Grustmill provided the following prices quotes for CSP:
Ausra (line focus) claims $100/m2, BrightSource (power tower heliostats) $150/m2, Matrix Solar Dish (me) $100/m2.

Let's do a little analysis. A square kilometer at $100 per square meter would cost $100X1000X1000 = 100,000,000 per square kilometer or $247,000,000 per square mile. This represents an improvement over the $260,000,000 for 400 acres figure we got for Nevada Solar 1, or the $1 billion fir 1900 acres figure we got for Solana, but again the word inflation did not appear in the discussion.

The 150/m2 estimate gives us $370500000 per square mile, still a little better than Nevada Solar 1 in price.

Ausra and PG%E have announced a 1 square mile line focus generating facility with a name plate power rating of 177 MWs. The facility is to be located at San Luis Obispo. No price tag has been placed on it yet, so it is impossible to tell if the $100/m2 figure will hold.

BrightSource has a contract with PG%E that calls for the construction of three solar facilities producing a total of 500 MWs. The cost appears to be estimated in the two to three billion dollar range. The size of the facility does not appear in press releases. However, press releases contained a a statement by John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource that the United States production tax credits are "absolutely critical" for his development. "Otherwise these plants will get built all over the world and not in the U.S." It would appear then that the BrightSources facility is not so much of a bargain, since it is too expensive to build without a massive federal subsidy.

According to the Tree Hugger, the first BrightSource facility has a name plate rating of 100 MWs, and will produce 246,000 MWs of electricity a year. That means that the BrightSolar facility will produce peak power with at an .84 capacity factor for 8 or so hours a day. The cost for the first BrightSource Unit would run between four and six hundred million, thus would fall in the range the Nevada Solar 1 range.

While we have not direct report of the size of BrightSource facilities, their mirror test facility in Israel occupies 12,000 Square Meters. The facility produces 1.5 MWs of electricity. This would scale up to about 800,000 Square Meters or 0.8 square kilometers. Subflower gave us the estimate of $150 Per M(2) fir BrighSource,andfor a 100 MW facility that should cost about $120,000,000 which is way lower than my $400,000,000 to $600,000,000 guestimate. And remember that the guestimate was based on BrrightSource's own statement.

A further consideration would be that BrightSources own estimated cost estimates falls within the cost range of current cost estimates for nuclear power plants costs. For the basically the same price as a 1 GW BrightSource generating facility PG&E could buy a 1 GW reactor that would generate power day and night, rain or shine with 3 times the daily electrical output of the BrightSource facility.

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