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re: economics of solar power
13 jun 1997
a. scott  wrote:

>i read a news item today that greece is going to build the world's largest
>soalr power plant on the island of crete.  the article said that the first
>phase of the facility would cost $17.75 million ($us) for 5 mw of capacity.

$3.55 per peak watt, cheap, compared to detroit edison's pv adventure at 
$8.80 per peak watt. is this a pv system?

>at this cost, and assuming a generous 50% capacity factor (the sun only
>shines during the day, right?),

more like 20%, eg 5 kwh/m^2/day, max, vs 1 kw/m^2 peak, which would be
24kwh/m^2 day, if the sun shined that way all day. 

>and a cost of money at 10% (nobody invests without expecting a return)

some people count the clean air return, even though it benefits many. 

>the cost of electricity produced by this plant comes out at about $117
>per mwhr.

let's see, 10% interest on $17.75 million is 1.775 million a year, to produce
something like 5mwx5wh/w/dx365d/yr = 9.125 mkwh/year, less than 20 cents per
kwh, if the system lasts forever. not bad...

>this price also does not include the cost of backup capacity
>(the sun does'nt alway shine, people use power at night too!). 

i wouldn't count that.

>compare this to the cost of electricity from a clean gas-fired combined
>cycle plant of about $30 per mwhr, and you'll see why solar is far from
>being economical.

gas is somewhat cleaner than coal or oil, and it can make 2 kwh of
"waste heat" for every kwh of electricity, but it still makes co2. 

when you say "solar is far from being economical," i suppose you mean "solar
electricity is far from being economical," at today's oil and gas prices. solar
heating is quite economical, since a $1/ft^2 commercial plastic film greenhouse
can collect $1/year worth of solar space heat, at today's oil and gas prices,
as well as providing additional floor space for an adjacent building.  

i notice you work for gpu, the proud purveyors of 3 mile island... 


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