Ontario to add Solar Power Plant to Electric Grid that will Power up to 180 Homes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2012

Week in Review

Ontario is going green.  They’re shutting down parts of one of the largest coal-fired power plants in North America.  Nanticoke Generating Station.  Refitting this plant to burn natural gas and biomass.  But the ‘feeling good’ doesn’t end there.  They are also installing solar power plants.  To feel even better about their part in saving the planet (see Canadian Solar sells solar power plant for $48 million posted 8/27/2012 on EDI).

Canadian Solar Inc. has sold a utility-scale solar power plant to Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners for approximately $48 million. Canadian Solar was the developer, EPC and construction financier for the project. The solar power plant can provide enough renewable energy to power more than 1,200 homes in eastern Ontario near the town of Napanee.

Assuming each house has an electric service of 100 amps at 240 volts that comes to about 28.8 megawatts.  With a capacity factor (actual power output divided by nameplate rating over a period of time) of 15% for solar power that plant will produce only about 4.32 megawatts of useable power.  Which reduces the number of homes it will be able to power from 1,200 to 180.  For no matter how many solar modules you install in a power plant none of them will produce power when the sun doesn’t shine.  Such as during the night.  On cloudy days.  Rainy days.  Snowy days.  Or days with lots of birds pooping on the solar modules.

Now compare that to the Nanticoke Generating Station in Nanticoke, Ontario.  A coal-fired power plant that could produce 3,964 megawatts with all of its units fired.  With a capacity factor of about 90% for coal (they only shut down for periodic maintenance) that comes to 3,324.6 megawatts of useful, dependable power.  Power that will always be there to light your home.  Cook your food.  Run your air conditioner.  And power any of your home medical devices.

The 4.32 megawatts of solar power is but 0.13% of what the Nanticoke Generating Station can provide.  To match the useable output of the Nanticoke Generating Station you would need to build an additional 769 of these solar power plants.  Costing another $36.9 billion.  To equal the output of three Nanticoke Generating Stations would cost over $1 trillion.  Making solar power not an alternative to coal but a deep hole to throw money into.  Which is a strange thing to do just to feel good.

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