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The Empire State’s “massive” solar project

Governor Paterson of New York has announced he’s going to build a 100 MW solar power station.  Stations may be a better word because he’ll probably have to distribute the generation quite a bit, but there’s no ambiguity about the power level.  He says he wants 100 MW, and the news media are calling it “massive.”

By utility standards, however, massive is what it is not.  In fact, a 100 MW coal plant is so small that nobody would bother to build one.  According to the government’s EPA web site, a high rise office building with 250,000 square feet of space consumes about 1200 KW on a hot summer day.  A 100 MW power plant could supply about 83 such buildings.  If the power plant uses sunlight, it can power these buildings for part of the day, tapering off mornings and evenings, leaving them dark all night.

For size comparison, the Empire State building in New York has 2,158,000 square feet of office space in it.  Using the energy consumption estimates of the EPA, that comes to about 10.358 MW for the Empire State Building.  I looked for published figures on the Empire State Building but couldn’t find them.  Maybe a reader can help with that.  With a 100 MW power plant you could supply between 9 and 10 of these buildings.  In Manhattan where 50-story buildings aren’t rare, you could power maybe 20 of those, or to stretch things a bit, maybe 30 or 40 if the buildings were skinny.

That really doesn’t make much of a dent in New York’s power consumption.  If fact, you’d hardly detect it in Manhattan if the utility suddenly lost 100 MW of generation.

All this is to make an important point: After years of repeating windsolarbiomassrenewable like some sort of curious mantra, the greenies are finally starting to move on their dream.  And a measly 100 MW is the big dream?  And they have to puff that with media toadies calling it massive?

If this is the best they can come up with, I think New Yorkers should consider investing in some retro technology.  Coal, gas, and uranium don’t bring a lot of glamour to Manhattan night life, but they sure keep the lights on.  And if green power means solar power, the old not-green technologies will be keeping the lights on for quite some time to come.

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