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Phoenix firm to build huge solar farm
MSNBC ^ | Aug. 14, 2005 | Adam Kress

Posted on 08/15/2005 8:31:47 PM PDT by nickcarraway

A Phoenix company signed a landmark deal with a major utility in California to develop the world's largest solar power facility.

Stirling Energy Systems Inc. and Southern California Edison have entered into an agreement that would create a 7-square-mile solar farm in Southern California that by 2011 could power nearly 280,000 homes a year. Construction cost is estimated between $2 billion and $3 billion.

This 20-year power purchase agreement is being lauded as an unprecedented event in the history of alternative power because of its size and scope. Once completed, the solar farm in barren desert 70 miles north of Los Angeles will produce pollution-free and renewable energy at costs comparable to fossil fuel plants.

The solar farm is slated to produce 500 megawatts of power from 20,000 25-kilowatt Stirling solar dishes that are 38 feet tall. The project includes an option where the farm could be expanded to 850 megawatts and 34,000 dishes.

Some of the construction of the solar dishes will be done by Schuff Steel in Phoenix. The company and Stirling worked to produce the current design of the solar dish. Once Schuff and other manufacturers produce parts for the dishes, they will be shipped to California to the farm site for construction and installation.

Under the terms of the power purchase agreement, which is subject to California Public Utilities Commission approval, Stirling will own and operate the plant, and SCE will purchase kilowatt hours at an undisclosed price.

"This is a breakthrough event for solar energy," said Stirling Chief Executive Bruce Osborn. "This is the world's most efficient solar technology."

Stirling's concentrated solar dish -- unlike photovoltaic panels that collect sunlight on a much smaller scale -- harnesses heat from the sun with 82 mirrors and reflects

(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Arizona
KEYWORDS: energy; solar; solarpower

1 posted on 08/15/2005 8:31:48 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
Stirling's concentrated solar dish -- unlike photovoltaic panels that collect sunlight on a much smaller scale -- harnesses heat from the sun with 82 mirrors and reflects
Well that does sound smarter than the old way.... but $3 billion dollars and 31,000 acres of California land - means this is gonna be some expensive electricity - they could have had a decent nuclear plant instead and gotten cheap electricity.
2 posted on 08/15/2005 8:37:09 PM PDT by gondramB
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To: gondramB
He estimated that it could cost roughly a quarter-billion dollars to construct and install every 50 megawatts of solar power -- but the pollution-free and renewable source pays for itself over time with little maintenance.

To me, that's the most interesting question: how much are they going to have to shell out annually for maintenance and upkeep?

3 posted on 08/15/2005 8:42:03 PM PDT by snowsislander
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To: nickcarraway

That's $10714 per customer, assuming the $3 bil is the cost ceiling.


4 posted on 08/15/2005 8:43:40 PM PDT by thoughtomator (Free Michael Graham!)
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To: nickcarraway
>> a 7-square-mile solar farm in Southern California

I'm thinking there is some rare scorpion or other desert dwelling critter with a large stinger (that wants to get into your shorts) that will cause this project to fold faster than a house of cards in a hurricane.

Only illegals scampering over the boarder are allowed to destroy this rare earth, using this wasted real estate for any potential profit will be squished out before it ever gets past planning.
5 posted on 08/15/2005 8:46:53 PM PDT by mmercier (it is going to take a lot of love to change the way things are)
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To: nickcarraway
And capturing all that heat from the Sun will lower the temperature of Southern California which will cause a shift in wind patterns sucking clouds from the ocean across the area thus reducing the sunlight available to reach the dishes....

Is this the real reason Congress voted to extend daylight savings time?

6 posted on 08/15/2005 8:52:08 PM PDT by bayourod (Winning elections is the only thing Those who glorify losing are unclear on the concept of democrac)
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To: mmercier
I'm thinking there is some rare scorpion or other desert dwelling critter with a large stinger (that wants to get into your shorts) that will cause this project to fold faster than a house of cards in a hurricane.

you called it (beat me to it, in fact)! Zero pollution or no, there is no way the envirowackos will let this thing be erected w/o hell to pay. It may get done, but you may as well add half a billion just to fight the fight those bastards will wage over it. The very idea of making MONEY off the sun! Well! Harumph, harumph!

7 posted on 08/15/2005 8:55:31 PM PDT by Migraine
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To: snowsislander

>> To me, that's the most interesting question: how much are they going to have to shell out annually for maintenance and upkeep?<<

Well if there is no upkeep and the thing lasts 10 years that would work out to $57 per megawatt hour. Does anybody know if that is a fair price in California these days? I'm sure there will be upkeep and hopefully it will last longer than 10 years but that should at least be the right order of magnitude.

(250 000 000 / 50) / (365 * 24 * 10) = 57.0776256


8 posted on 08/15/2005 8:55:52 PM PDT by gondramB
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To: nickcarraway

they should take the money and build a nuclear plant


9 posted on 08/15/2005 8:58:49 PM PDT by kellynla (U.S.M.C. 1st Battalion,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Div. Viet Nam 69&70 Semper Fi)
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To: gondramB

I think one square mile is equal to 640 acres.So 7 square miles
should be 4480 acres.

All I could say is 'bout time. I just hope this isn't
a market "pump and dump" scheme where they highly
tout a product, then as soon as word gets out, and the stock
prices start to rise, or investment capital increases,
they dump the stock, or siphon off the investment capital
and the project goes belly up...

We'll see, but we need to get off of foreign oil...that would be
completely coool...This could be a great lesson to China,
and Europe, so they won't have to use as much foreign oil...
I am sure the loss of oil sales volume would severely depress
the price of oil.


10 posted on 08/15/2005 8:59:50 PM PDT by Getready ((...Fear not ...))
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To: nickcarraway
Photo voltaic cells are still too expensive at around $10 a watt, to be used on a large scale. You'd have $1000 bucks in a panel to run a 100 watt bulb, in the daylight when you don't need it, not to mention all the ancillary equipment needed to make it work, storage batteries,regulators, charge controllers and such.
11 posted on 08/15/2005 9:00:14 PM PDT by Boiling point (If God had not meant for man to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat!)
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To: All

12 posted on 08/15/2005 9:05:00 PM PDT by bnelson44 (Proud parent of a tanker!)
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To: Getready

>.I think one square mile is equal to 640 acres.So 7 square miles
should be 4480 acres. <<

You are right. I did (7 miles)^2 instead of 7 square miles.

Thanks for catching it.


13 posted on 08/15/2005 9:07:59 PM PDT by gondramB
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To: kellynla
Here is an interesting coal versus nuke cost comparison - it says they both come in at about $30 per megawatt hour.

Part of the cost for the nuclear plant is $15-$20 million dollars a year for property taxes. I wonder what the property taxes will be on 7 square miles for their solar plant?

Coal vs Nuke cost comparison

14 posted on 08/15/2005 9:09:26 PM PDT by gondramB
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To: gondramB
Electricity Price Indexes
August 15, 2005
Figures represent weighted average price of electricity traded at the indicated hubs. All indexes quoted in dollars per megawatt hour; volumes in megawatt hours.
 
 DJ COB  California-Oregon and Nevada-Oregon Borders
  Aug 15  Aug 14  Aug 13  Aug 12 
  Firm
   On Peak 77.07 n.q. 73.38 73.38
   Volume 5392 n.q. 6720 6720
   Off Peak 63.96 n.q. 53.43 53.43
   Volume 2456 n.q. 3400 3400
  Non Firm
   On Peak n.a. n.q. s58.70 s58.70
   Volume n.a. n.q. 0 0
   Off Peak n.a. s57.56 s42.74 s42.74
   Volume n.a. 0 0 0
Explanatory Notes:
Firm: Electricity that meets the minimum criteria of being Financially Firm and backed by liquidating damages. Non Firm: Electric energy subject to interruption at any time. On Peak: 16-hour period of heavy demand.  Off Peak: Eight-hour period of light demand. r: Revised.n.q.: No quote. s:Surveyed data. n.a.: One-day lag for non-firm, not available for others. For questions and additional hubs from Dow Jones please call 609-520-4663.
Explanatory Notes: Firm: Electricity that meets the minimum criteria of being Financially Firm and backed by liquidating damages. Non Firm: Electric energy subject to interruption at any time. On Peak: 16-hour period of heavy demand. Off Peak: Eight-hour period of light demand. r: Revised.n.q.: No quote. s:Surveyed data. n.a.: One-day lag for non-firm, not available for others. For questions and additional hubs from Dow Jones please call 609-520-4663.
15 posted on 08/15/2005 9:12:04 PM PDT by sefarkas (why vote Democrat-lite???)
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To: snowsislander
As I understand it, the 500 megawatt farm will consist of 20,000 hydrogen powered Sterling Engines driving 20,000 25 kw generators. Somehow, the output of these 20,000 generators will have to be controlled for voltage and phase balance in order to work together. This means that a computer system that will need perhaps 100,000 inputs, one hell of a software program, and 100,000 outputs. Then add in who knows how many switches, circuit breakers, and other electro-mechanical devices needed to get the power online and the statement ... the renewable source pays for itself over time with little maintenance... seems rather ridiculous.
16 posted on 08/15/2005 9:12:11 PM PDT by Fog Nozzle
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To: nickcarraway

For the same $2-3billion, a Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant will deliver twice as much power to the grid.


17 posted on 08/15/2005 9:16:12 PM PDT by sefarkas (why vote Democrat-lite???)
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To: nickcarraway

bump for later reading


18 posted on 08/15/2005 9:22:46 PM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: nickcarraway

Gee, that sounds bigger than the 5,000 acres they want to drill on in ANWAR.


19 posted on 08/15/2005 9:35:52 PM PDT by Eagles6 (Dig deeper, more ammo.)
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To: sefarkas
"For the same $2-3billion, a Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant will deliver twice as much power to the grid."

I wonder how many Nuclear power plants could fit on the same footprint as the solar plant?
20 posted on 08/15/2005 9:38:24 PM PDT by fallujah-nuker (Atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appelant)
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To: nickcarraway
I'm getting sick of reading all these OUTRAGEOUS prices for things nowadays. A Billion dollars is a friggin lot of money. What gets me is how unbalanced pricing is, Today I bought a DVD player for my bedroom for 25 bucks and a case of of Sam Adams for almost 30 Bucks.
21 posted on 08/15/2005 9:39:17 PM PDT by mowowie
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To: fallujah-nuker
I wonder how many Nuclear power plants could fit on the same footprint as the solar plant?

Roughly speaking, 49 assuming you could get about 1E6gpm of water to each of'm.
22 posted on 08/15/2005 9:41:51 PM PDT by sefarkas (why vote Democrat-lite???)
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To: sefarkas

I remember reading a book from the AEC, written in the sixties. They had proposed a massive industrial complex built around nuclear power plants, I think it was like 20 or so, would put out about 20,000 MW when all were running. IIRC the mainly produced hydrogen by electrolysis from water, the hydrogen was used as a feed stock for chemical plants, which also used waste steam from the reactors. I think they may have also done some desalination, the name was shortened to nu-plex.


23 posted on 08/15/2005 9:57:11 PM PDT by fallujah-nuker (Atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appelant)
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To: gondramB
(250 000 000 / 50) / (365 * 24 * 10) = 57.0776256

Shouldn't that be 12 hours of daylight (or less to allow for clouds and sandstorms)? That would put it more in the range of $125 per MWH. The recently passed pork bill includes subsidies for solar and wind power, so that will bring the installed cost down, (and your cost up: did you vote to subsidize power to LA?)

24 posted on 08/15/2005 9:57:22 PM PDT by Peter vE (Ceterum censeo: delenda est Carthago.)
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To: Peter vE
(250 000 000 / 50) / (365 * 24 * 10) = 57.0776256 Shouldn't that be 12 hours of daylight (or less to allow for clouds and sandstorms)? That would put it more in the range of $125 per MWH. The recently passed pork bill includes subsidies for solar and wind power, so that will bring the installed cost down, (and your cost up: did you vote to subsidize power to LA?)
Hey, that last part wasn't nice - I just made a mistake. But your' right - 24 is not the right number - I don't even know if they get 12 full hours a day - it's got to be cloudy sometimes.
25 posted on 08/15/2005 10:01:50 PM PDT by gondramB
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To: mowowie

I surmise that the DVD player was manufactured in Red China at prison/slave wages, and that half the price of the Sam Adams is taxes. ;)


26 posted on 08/15/2005 10:03:08 PM PDT by soundbits
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To: mmercier
...." some rare scorpion or other desert dwelling critter"....

BINGO! You win the prize. I have only heard once on TV and once in a magazine article the real reason this stuff won't work. To generate enough electricity to do a small town takes more land mass COMPLETELY covered with solar cells, than the city it provides for. The windmills are killing over 100,000 birds a year right now. How many of those are Spotted Owls, or rare woodpeckers or something, we don't really know. You can imagine the carnage if we went with wind farms all over the country. Besides the land masses involved, they are still impractical economically. If it made sense, we would be doing it already. There is enough wacko money(aka Soros, Buffett, etc), already out there if it made sense. What they want is you, the taxpayer to fund their boondoggles. If solar could triple in efficiency, or even double, maybe it would be worth the loss of land mass, but just think what land is going for in So California.

If every house had solar shingles covering the entire roof, maybe you could watch TV and run a fan and a couple of lights for free. But that 60 amp double breaker that runs the AC will still be fed by the light company.

Why the MSM keeps this myth alive about the greedy oil companies stopping progress beats me. If solar was the future, Exxon would buy the panel makers. GE is already big in wind. There is no money in it, ergo, it won't make it in a capitalistic economy.

Course, with the recent Supreme Ct decision, maybe we could just eminent domain California, Oregon, and Washington, and cover them with solar and windmills. That way we get rid of 3 blue states, and get some juice to boot. Put the people on reservations in Utah and Nevada or something so we can keep track of them and re-educate them. Maybe a special place for San Francisco in Kansas or something. Excuse me, my mind is wandering.

27 posted on 08/15/2005 10:22:39 PM PDT by chuckles
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To: Peter vE

One wonders how much power they could get if they used a salt pond?

Applications for solar ponds include community, residential and commercial heating; low-temperature industrial and agricultural process heat; preheating for higher-temperature industrial process applications; and electricity generation. Heat extracted from ponds can also run absorption chillers.

Several U.S. organizations, in consultation with the Israelis—the leaders in solar pond technology—built a 0.8 acre (0.32 hectare) salt gradient solar pond on the grounds of a food cannery in El Paso, Texas.

The first application of the pond was to produce heat for the canning operation. The pond has been producing heat in this manner since the summer of 1986. The system operates at about 185°F (86°C) and delivering about 300 kilowatts (kW) of thermal energy.

In July 1986, the operators added a Rankine Cycle heat engine to the system. In September, it became the first in the United States to generate electricity, producing up to 70 kW.

In May 1987, the operators added a 24 stage, falling-film, low temperature desalting unit. In June, it began producing about 4,600 gallons of desalinated water per day (16,000 liters/day). In 1992, the facility was shut down due to a failure of its original XR-5 liner. The pond was reconstructed with a geosynthetic clay liner system and operations resumed in the spring of 1995.

REF: http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/aa8.html


28 posted on 08/15/2005 10:29:51 PM PDT by ASOC (Insert clever tagline here: _______)
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To: soundbits

Yup, thats pretty much the reason i guess. Maybe we should buy them solar panels from China too. everything is so wacked. I imagine soon enough even our Beer will be made in China.


29 posted on 08/15/2005 10:53:16 PM PDT by mowowie
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To: bnelson44
Well that's a lot prettier than your typical "wind farm" - of course I trust these babies won't be reflecting the setting sun into driver's eyes on the interstate at sundown or sun up!
Cool pic!

Oops! Once last thing ... Night, Night. ;-)


30 posted on 08/15/2005 11:23:46 PM PDT by Tunehead54 (Nothing funny here ;-)
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To: sefarkas
"For the same $2-3billion, a Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant will deliver twice as much power to the grid."

But don't nuclear plants need a heck of a lot of fresh, running water for cooling?
31 posted on 08/15/2005 11:39:27 PM PDT by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: fallujah-nuker
I wonder how many Nuclear power plants could fit on the same footprint as the solar plant?

None, since this is California, and entire cities would march into the desert and camp out there in order to stop construction of anything useful, since anything useful would automatically damage the liberals' tender psyches.

Oh, also, when you guys say to put up nuclear plants instead, factor in the fact that there isn't any cooling water out in the desert, and the costs of eventually shutting down the plant and finding somewhere - anywhere - to put the waste for the long haul. If you do that, a solar plant that actually is buildable seems a lot better than a nuclear fantasy plant about which wacko-liberal judges across the state are panting with excitement at the chance of stopping it in its tracks.

32 posted on 08/16/2005 12:06:04 AM PDT by KellyAdmirer
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To: KellyAdmirer

They've never done an air cooled nuke?


33 posted on 08/16/2005 12:12:18 AM PDT by drlevy88
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To: chuckles
But that 60 amp double breaker that runs the AC will still be fed by the light company.

For a McMansion maybe. Sitting outside my house is one that says 10 amps on the plate, and it has never failed to keep up with Mr. Sun yet.

34 posted on 08/16/2005 12:14:34 AM PDT by drlevy88
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To: nickcarraway
Some of the construction of the solar dishes will be done by Schuff Steel in Phoenix.

There's a stirling dish about that big at a landfill about 10 miles from my house in Phoenix. Don't know if it's the same company, but they were having trouble getting it to operate in this heat, and it hasn't been operational for several years.

35 posted on 08/16/2005 12:16:42 AM PDT by narby (There are Bloggers, and then there are Freepers.)
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To: chuckles

In 1966, I drove a Post Office vehicle past Varian-Aeograph 6 days a week; and every week read another news story about how, "Varian was on the verge of a major breakthrough to cost-effective solar cells."


36 posted on 08/16/2005 12:21:37 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Marching Morons are coming...and they're breeding more Democrats beyond all reason!)
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To: snowsislander

That's my question too. If solar mirrors are involved, what is the cost to keep them clean?


37 posted on 08/16/2005 1:07:09 AM PDT by jonrick46
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To: nickcarraway
This a a billion dollar boondoggle. The technology to watch is nano solar technology which will render this crude method of energy production as obsolete. For a look at what is being developed check this out:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html
38 posted on 08/16/2005 2:09:40 AM PDT by jonrick46
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To: nickcarraway
This a a billion dollar boondoggle. The technology to watch is nano solar technology which will render this crude method of energy production as obsolete. For a look at what is being developed check this out:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0114_050114_solarplastic.html
39 posted on 08/16/2005 2:10:19 AM PDT by jonrick46
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To: nickcarraway

I'd bet it would be a ball to work on this project as an engineer, but not as a maintenance technician! 20,000 Stirling engines, I wonder what the major service interval is.

So far it looks like only a very few units have been built, with max test life at about 1K Hrs. Only the government would sign a contract for 20K units based on that kind of validation history. Hopefully the contract is only for the 40 units for the initial "1MW" facility with follow on purchase contingent upon performance.

Personally, I'd love to get a look at their lifetest data, design controls, and production plan. Sounds like they're counting on hitting a lot of home runs. Good luck.


40 posted on 08/16/2005 2:21:09 AM PDT by Jack of all Trades
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To: chuckles
"Course, with the recent Supreme Ct decision, maybe we could just eminent domain California, Oregon, and Washington, and cover them with solar and windmills. That way we get rid of 3 blue states, and get some juice to boot."

OUTSTANDING!!!

"Put the people on reservations in Utah and Nevada or something so we can keep track of them and re-educate them. Maybe a special place for San Francisco in Kansas or something. Excuse me, my mind is wandering."

Now with this I take exception... it's not fair to the people in those states!

Just give'em one way tickets to Canada ;-)


41 posted on 08/16/2005 2:33:51 AM PDT by Toadman
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To: chuckles; mmercier
... What they want is you, the taxpayer to fund their boondoggles.

What they want is you, the taxpayer to fund their boondoggles yachts.

42 posted on 08/16/2005 2:40:27 AM PDT by pageonetoo (You'll spot their posts soon enough!)
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To: RightWhale

ping


43 posted on 08/16/2005 3:48:33 AM PDT by King Prout (and the Clinton Legacy continues: like Herpes, it is a gift that keeps on giving.)
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To: drlevy88

I'm sorry you live in a travel trailer.


44 posted on 08/16/2005 6:14:18 AM PDT by chuckles
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To: mowowie

What gets me is how unbalanced pricing is, Today I bought a DVD player for my bedroom for 25 bucks and a case of of Sam Adams for almost 30 Bucks.<<<<<<<

Interesting, your comment fits in with what I have been watching evolve over many years, namely that what used to be unaffordable luxuries or did not exist, color televisions, cell phones, computers etc. are becoming dirt cheap while the necessities, food, housing, Sam Adams etc. are being priced out of reach. It is obvious that we will soon arrive at the point where we live in tarpaper shacks but have huge televisions with no programming worth watching, incredibly powerful home computers and space age cell phones but cannot afford a bag of Fritos and a beer to go with the worthless movie on TV. Simple extrapolation will lead you to the same inescapable conclusion.

P.S. Belay that line about the tarpaper shack, roofing felt is becoming very expensive, we may have to use discarded paper boxes from the computers and televisions.


45 posted on 08/16/2005 6:31:59 AM PDT by RipSawyer (I wouldn't mind being broke if I weren't so short of cash.)
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To: King Prout

I like the idea of a steam boiler at the focus of all the mirrors and a dual walking-beam steam engine driving a bank of generators. Stirling engines might be efficient but they lack the raw power of a Watt engine on an overcast day. They should add windmills to the same site since cloudiness is associated with wind, and they should add buried thermocouples to take advantage of hot days with no wind and no sun, as well as cool nights with no wind. The farm should produce some electricity no matter what.


46 posted on 08/16/2005 8:53:38 AM PDT by RightWhale (Withdraw from the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and open the Land Office)
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To: thoughtomator
That's $10714 per customer, assuming the $3 bil is the cost ceiling.

Interesting. Checking my budget plan electric bill, that's about 20 years worth of power for my area, which, like many places in this country, has primarily a coal-nuclear generation mix. Factor in things like maintenance/replacement costs and reliability concerns (the sun doesn't always shine, even in the desert, since it gets dark at night there, too), then I'm wondering if the thing is really practical given the (proven) alternatives.

47 posted on 08/16/2005 9:07:19 AM PDT by chimera
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To: chuckles

Just an ordinary brick house


48 posted on 08/16/2005 8:14:10 PM PDT by drlevy88
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