The story discussed that an environmental controversy involving had broken out the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity were objecting to the project for environmental reasons although at least in principle support solar energy projects. One has to ask where these distinguished environmental organizations think it would environmentally sound to bulldoze several square miles of desert habitat, and cover the denuded land with thousands of mirrors?
The Times story contained major flaws. as David Lewis noted in response:
If you take the $1.37 billion loan guarantee as the cost of the project, and NREL published data for the estimated yearly output in MWhr (1,079,232 per yr), this works out to $11,120 per available kWhr. But this project relies on a natural gas assist. From the California Energy Commission's webpage on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System: "Each plant also includes a partial load natural gas fired steam boiler... for thermal input... during the morning start-up cycle... and during transient cloudy conditions". The gas fired assist explains how this plant can claim to be designed to produce power @ 31% capacity factor - a solar plant at that location could only be expected to produce 24% or so.Environmentalists continue to insist on their absurd argument that nuclear power is to expensive, while hiding the real cost of renewable power. The Times, of course, enables the confidence game.
If you factor out the gas assist, you get actual low CO2 emission solar thermal power out of this thing for a mere $15,0000 per available kW, which is only THREE TIMES what it would cost to put in a nuke plant, if you assumed that Lester Brown is correct when he cites the Areva plant in Finland as the true "tombstone" poster plant that will kill the nuclear renaissance because it costs $5000 per available kW after the cost overruns are included
It would take about 11.7 of these Brightsource "392 MW" nameplate 123 MW actually available on average projects to equal the output of the far too expensive for Lester Brown to consider using Areva Finland nuke. Lester touts solar thermal, so, let's see, for a mere $16 billion or so, you could cover 75 square miles of places the Sierra Club, et al, say they don't want to see covered and use generating stations like these instead.
There was a reason that the Sierra Club used to support nuclear power.