The construction of a 400 megawatt BrightSource solar thermal plant in Ivanpah, Calif. will result in $3 billion in direct investment into the economy, the companies saidWhat does a 3 billion dollar direct investment into the economy mean? Chances are three billion dollars represent overnight costs. That would mean a cost with interest of between $5 and $6 billion. If we assume the lower figure, that would mean an investment of about $12.50 per watt. In contrast nuclear plant investments were estimated to run at $7.00 per watt, and renewables spokesperson Joe Romm describe the cost of nuclear facilities as outrageous.
Brightsource plans to expand the Ivanpath facility to 1300 MWs, and reports that the expanded facility will produce about 3.7 billion kWhs of electricity per year. One way of judging how well a plant fulfills its potential is to measure its capacity factor, A typical nuclear facility will have acapacity factor of over .90. The Ivanpath solar facility will have a capacity factor of ,325. That means that for every 3 watts pf electricity a large reactor will produce, the Ivanpath CSP facility will produce a little better than 1. So how much would it cost to produce the same amount of electricity with CSP as would be produced by a typical reactor? The answer would run between $30 and $35 billion.