October 26, 2009

55K Homes worth of Standby Power

Florida Power & Light are just about to open a new solar facility in Florida, of all places. Apparently it will generate 42GWh of electricity for the Grid each year and use just 180 acres to do so. It also cost JUST US$152M as opposed to the unknown Billions which will be used to either develop or maintain new coal power around the world in the next few years. Example being the unknown $ costs (not to mention the environmental costs) of 'Bayswater B' at Musswellbrook in the Hunter Valley

According to a report commissioned by the Australian Government in 2000, that would cover the 'Standby' Power usage of about 55,263 households in Australia in 2001. One wonders whether the number associated with 'standby power' from the study above has reduced or grown in the intervening years. While the energy saving properties of devices has no doubt improved in the period, I imagine - given the evidence of mine own house - the prevalence of even bigger TV's always on computers, servers and Cable TV boxes has offset much of that savings.

I appreciate compared to those 'Baseload' power stations, this one is relatively miniscule, but with the only Solar Power Station being developed or planned in NSW being ONLY a 10mWh system, two and a half times smaller than the one just about to open in Florida, I have to ask; are we THAT short of sun here? Wouldn't the equivalent of 10 Solar Plants of this nature, produce the same amount of power as this proposed Coal Plant? And despite the area required (less than a km squared), end up having a lower Environmental Footprint?

Either way, good to see this plant opening, hopefully the NSW and Federal Government will see beyond the shortsightedness of their Union and Industry Paymasters to invest some of those CPRS 'offsets' into energy generation with a future.

Perhaps they should listen to Buck Martinez of the Florida Light and Power for some down to earth logic on the matter;
"This is an incredible opportunity to build new industry in the state," he said. "It will put people to work. Solar energy can create tens of thousands of jobs."

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