Experts once believed that solar panels will be replaced by solar-thermal technology one day, but it turned out to be a mirage as solar-thermal projects fail to generate as much power as expected, according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, U.S. government biologists found the plant's superheated mirrors were killing hundreds and thousands of birds, therefore the costly new technology may be obsolete.
The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power project in California's Mojave Desert is supposed to be generating more than a million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. But 15 months after starting up, the plant is producing only 40% of that, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department.
“Turns out, there is a lot more to go wrong with the new technology. Replacing broken equipment and learning better ways to operate the complex assortment of machinery has stalled Ivanpah's ability to reach full potential,” said Randy Hickok, a senior vice president at NRG. “New solar-thermal technology isn't as simple as traditional solar panel installations. Since older solar PV panels have been around for decades, they improve in efficiency and price every year,” he said.
Ivanpah isn't the only new solar-thermal project is struggling to energize the grid. A large mirror-powered plant built in Arizona almost two years ago by Abengoa SA of Spain has also had its share of hiccups. Designed to deliver a million megawatt hours of power annually, the plant is putting out roughly half that, federal data show.
Source: Wall Street Journal