> Arrays of photovoltaic solar panels are seen at the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in this aerial photo
There does not seem to a single person in the image and I don't think solar panels can catch COVID. How is the spread of COVID continuing "in this aerial photo" haha.
“As the spread of the coronavirus disease continues”, good for any sentence!
There were tons of cases of this weird "article/photo title is trying way too hard to spin this story while the text is pretty neutral and unbiased" during election season.
It also shows up in the tendency to insert the prefix "Commentary:" in the title of any article noting any negative facts about a certain particular country. The WSJ is particularly hilarious in this respect.
This article just uses it without any changes.
The caption would have been somewhat less strange at that point (but still hard to contextualize).
Edit: Oops, the earliest date is June 2020. Doesn't really change the explanation any though.
... that sounds pretty cool actually, though I'm not sure how it would work. The main character of the game is pretty good at social distancing already.
PDF warning - https://opsb.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/b504e379-a4ba-49e4...
To put it into context, the approved solar projects (not yet operational or under construction) is ~ 2200 MW of power covering 23,000 acres. There are two major coal plants outside of Cincinnati that are due to be shutdown by 2027. Combined, they produce 2300 MW by themselves . And that is just those two plants.
It is nice to see the shift, but we still have a way to go.
Delays in constructing power plants are pretty common, but I'm not sure what the practical consequences are.
The right procedure is to calculate payoff periods for each project separately. Then, when deciding which projects to fund, you choose them starting with the shortest payoff times until your budget is used up.
If you spend $10,000 on a solar installation that is $10,000 you could have put in the market. After 15 years you saved $10,000 in electricity, and you’re supposedly profiting. However, that $10,000 investment would have grown to $24,000 at a modest 6%. So you’re actually still in the red, and you’ll likely never catch up and break even.
If you took out a loan it’s the opportunity cost on the payments. There is actually a theoretical break even here, but it’s not 15 years.
If you’re doing it for some altruistic reasons then it doesn’t matter. But if you’re making a payback calculation, you should do it properly. Opportunity cost is a real thing.
As it is right now there is enough funding for every conceivable project, assuming the project is profitable (pays debts back) the only real limits are physical resources and unemployed workers and running out of unemployed workers is a policy goal. If we hit real limits, then interest rates will go up and lenders will demand greater returns, which may mean that a solar project like this may not get started and people start seeking out more productive ideas. However, the most important thing is that investments pay their debts back.
> The project will include a battery storage system
I see that they provided 800ha of federal land, that may be why.
They are the least full of life of usual ecosystems, so if you want to minimize harm when building large infrastructure, they're the logical place to put the infrastructure.
OTOH, you may be interested by the fact that nuclear plants have the best energy density per occupied land surface, if you care about reducing ecosystem impact. That allows minimizing used land.
I don't think that necessarily follows — desert ecosystems are often relatively fragile. Small changes to conditions can have a disproportionate, negative effect on the plants and animals that live there. (Or a positive effect on some species, which often means a negative effect on others — i.e. things thrown out of balance.)
Thing is, most people are less concerned with the environment and more concerned about things like accumulation of wealth, social status, and in many places even things like clean water, access to healthcare and food on the table. If you want to convince all those people to prioritize the environment over everything else, then you better have some kind of magical way of convincing people to listen and act here and now. "Bad stuff will happen in X years" simply isn't relevant enough for people to care.
If you don't have one, then all we can hope for is to limit the damage in a way that is acceptable to as many as possible, and hope that's enough.
and when it blows it naturally provides for a huge blossoming ecosystem refuge guaranteed to be free of development for the centuries to come like the Chernobyl zone.
Edit in response to the comment below: the false dichotomy. Basically the same old Big Energy tries to blackmail our civilization into nuclear using the threat of coal. No pasaran.
Nuclear seems like a perfect solution to immediately reduce climate impact while we transition to proper renewables.
It seems like the semi localized environmental damage of an occasional nuclear accident is far less bad than the constant global damage of carbon.
It's a better than 99%, but only slightly. Over 440 active reactors, we're at ~0.68% at INES  level 6. That is in a period of exceptional social stability though. We've arguably escaped some rather nasty accidents in the disintegrating USSR. One could also speculate that accidents might be more likely to happen near the end of the reactor's economic life, which for many reactors we haven't seen yet.
> The waste fuel is miniscule in size and easy to contain compared amd fossil fuel, which cant be contained.
It isn't easy to contain for the entire containment period. Humanity doesn't even have a solution for that yet.
You're also neglecting other risks, like nuclear proliferation.
> Nuclear seems like a perfect solution to immediately reduce climate impact while we transition to proper renewables.
The median construction time for a nuclear reactor was 119 months in 2019. It's not a fast transitional technology to renewables. It also doesn't complement renewables very well. There's its limited scaling up and down. There's also the inherent big size of the projects and the management and lobbying hydrocephalus that entials.
> It seems like the semi localized environmental damage of an occasional nuclear accident is far less bad than the constant global damage of carbon.
What's certain is deploying renewables is certainly cheaper, easier, faster and safer than nuclear for at least 80% of the world's electric energy production right now. Chances are that with the incredibly quick development of storage technology, that number will soon get much closer to 100%.
Another option would be to convince Americans, Canadians and Scandinavians to limit their electricity consumption patterns to that of the average western European.
Autocorrupt or a novel biting put-down?
Ironically nuclear accidents are not too bad for the natural environment compared to, say, petrochemical accidents - it's humans they are really bad for with their array of bioaccumulative poisons.
Unlike nuclear, you don't even have to wait for a disaster to happen. It just does it normally.
Plus, to my untrained eye, what else, except for bacteria (and even that, in limited amounts) thrives in desert conditions?
Everything I know about biology tells me that deserts are relatively bereft of life compared to temperate or tropical climates.
Also, what alternative is less harmful to life, in general?
Flora wise, it's going to be predominantly desert scrub bush and to a lesser degree, microphyll woodland. Even in the article photo, you can see desert scrub in the undeveloped portions.
I think environmentalists that care about the desert would much prefer solar development to occur on already disturbed land.
Where? "Disturbed" land is taken.
We never did manage to get solar roadways strong enough to use and cheap enough to be economical; but I wonder, could we do better with solar between the rails of railway lines? Or high enough above them to enclose them and their trains?
Putting solar above parking lots and parking decks is a much more viable way to use vehicle-related infrastructure for solar.
Using desert habitats are probably superior since we are in a climate emergency and need to build as much solar and wind as possible as fast as possible. Ground solar is cheaper than elevated solar as I understand it.
As I understand it, the problem was it was too expensive to make it sufficiently damage resistant, that damage being continuous wear from all the traffic.
Just outside my window, there is a tram line. Grass grows in the spaces between the rails. I suspect you could put normal panels in those gaps where grass currently grows, and most of the panels would last just as long there as they would on a rooftop.
Roads are at least as bad, and near as I can tell, there is literally no road surface (from hardened steel to concrete to glass to asphalt!) that won’t get potholes and other damage decently quickly.
And they don’t have any sensitive electrical connections or need clear sunlight to do anything useful.
USA has 257,722 km of 1,435 mm gauge track, so… about 3.9 billion square feet there.
The EU is a bit less, but similar (208,211 km).
Worldwide is 1,370,782 km, various gauges. Roughly 21 billion square feet?
Should be good for a combined nameplate capacity around 393 GW.
> How would you run electrical lines by and through the constantly moving (expansion/contraction, as well as vehicle weight) heavy steel elements?
The trains and trams around here are electrically powered, so that’s already solved technically, and in cases like mine the solution has already been implemented.
I have no idea how the other stuff might influence costs.
Next to said tracks though are millions of acres of land that wouldn’t have all the maintenance issues and would actually work?
It’s a similar issue with solar roadways - it’s a really impractical place to put solar; not even close to worth it maintenance wise or efficiency - and you pretty much always have better options literally 10 ft away.
Doesn’t matter. The engineering solution is known (as I type I am literally looking at overhead power cables above the street, powering one of Berlin’s tram lines). Use that class of existing solutions rather than asking me to reinvent it badly.
> Next to said tracks though are millions of acres of land that wouldn’t have all the maintenance issues and would actually work?
Great, so use that too, if you like. But the ask I was responding to was the idea we should use land which is already in an unnatural state.
As someone else has mentioned, within the built environment would be at the top end.
As far as solar power plants go, geographically altered, old agricultural, and wildfire affected lands.
A far better place to put solar panels are in places where we know the impact of people and machines will be barely noticed and where life will spring back quite quickly. Put them in the middle of farmland. We have far more arable land than we need to be using, taking it out of production for a decade or two will be good for the soil, and it will spring back to life within days of the construction machinery leaving.
"We need to be using" from a metric you just conjured, or we are actually using?
Taking land like this out of production will serve the purpose of supporting crop prices (limiting the political fallout of such a move) and it is well-established that modern farm practices have done significant damage to topsoil and that leaving land fallow or planting gaps between panels with prairie grasses will help build back some of the topsoil and soil nutrients.
Do you have a counter-argument to refute my assertion?
Not everything is done in the name of 110% efficiency.
According to this link there is promising benefits:
There are these really cute rat-looking things that eat bark and make a crazy scratching sound while you’re trying to sleep. There’s a huge variety of birds, some of which are brutal — they’ll pick up those rats and throw them at a cactus to impale them so they can be eaten more easily. Then there’s mice, ants, coyotes (woke up in the middle of the night to a big pack running by), tons of crazy plants. There’s even some spots with water & real oasis feeling - palm trees, frogs, insects, and running water - right in between some cliffs, tucked away, with no people around as far as you can see.
I always thought the desert was just mostly sand and occasional cactus, but have been proven SO wrong after spending lots of time there.
In particular, note the endemic flora — these species live _only_ in this desert.
I don't know what impact this development will have, so I won't comment on that.