To simplify the calculation of how big a solar power plant would be needed to replace the two base load nuclear power plants (2000 MWe) at Indian Point scheduled for closure in 2021, I made the following and unrealistic assumptions to simplify the task:
1. Daylight is always 12 hours/day.
2. Solar panels always produce 100 percent of their rated output.
3. Solar angle is constant throughout the year.
4. No cloudy weather.
5. Insolation (incident solar energy) in N.Y. is the same as in California.
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6. Solar PV panel efficiency remains constant.
The Solar Star power station in California is rated at 570 MWe, occupies 3,200 acres of land. So it would take seven Solar Star power stations to replace the two power plants at Indian Point, that is, 4000 MWe. The solar panel array would occupy about 22,000 acres of land – about 34 square miles. A pumped storage facility would store the excess 2000 MWe produced during the day and release it at night.
Currently, N.Y. has two operating pumped storage facilities: Blenheim-Gilboa (1000 MWe) and the Lewiston Reservoir (240 MWe). Given the likely opposition by environmentalists to two more Blenheim-Gilboa facilities, I doubt they would ever be built. Over 40 years ago Con Ed proposed a 2000 MWe pumped stored facility at Storm King Mountain and it went nowhere.
The capacity factor of a solar power plant is not 100 percent but ranges from 10 to 25 percent. Using an average value of 18 percent for N.Y. yields a reliable base load capacity of only 360 MWe for the aforementioned hypothetical solar power plant.
Finally, and given their rather low capacity factors, large solar power farms are not a bright idea, wind power is overblown and hydropower doesn't hold water.
So much for the governor's energy plan.
Charles Heimerdinger, Edinburg