Skip to main content

See also:

Solar greenhouse gases?

Green Gone Wrong
Green Gone Wrong
Paul Taylor

Myopic, partisan and unsustainable government-mandated greenhouse gas controls for questionable climate threats inflate consumer costs and cause electric power shortfalls, and always have unintended pollution. The California Energy Commission mandates "green/renewable energy" of California's electric utility companies to produce 33 percent of their electric power by 2020. Green/renewables would include solar, wind, small hydropower and biofuels.

Solar thermal reactor electric power plants were all the rage of renewable power enthusiasts in the 1980’s. Today in California's Mojave Desert, the Ivanpah solar reactor plant -- which focuses sunlight from thousands of curved mirrors onto massive boilers 339 feet in the air to make steam that drives turbines to produce electricity – would have an advantage over conventional photovoltaic solar panels, wind and conventional carbonaceous coal or gas-fired electricity.

This 3,000-acre solar reactor electric plant would be the world’s largest using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar boilers atop three towers. The electricity generated by all three tower reactors is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes – approximately the size of Pasadena. The complex is advertised to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year.

Ironically, each of Ivanpah’s three steam turbines requires auxiliary boilers that pre-heat fluid in the early morning to keep fluid warm over night, and to boost production especially during cloudy days or when there are desert dust storms. Carbonaceous natural gas is burned to heat the auxiliary boilers when the sun is down or covered by clouds. Burning this natural gas to pre-heat the boilers will emit 383.7 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per operating day at Ivanpah. CO2 is classified as a polluting greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Cynically in October 4, 2011, California Gov. Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 226 amending the California Environmental Quality Act so that “cumulative impacts" from some "green" public projects do not disqualify a project from fast-tracking via "categorical exemptions." (CalWatchDog.com, April 25, 2014)

Subscribe free to this Column by clicking the blue-highlighted "Subscribe" line next to author's photo.