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Huge for solar panels, that is

The Communist Chinese People’s Daily On-Line has published a puff piece about a reportedly “huge” solar voltaic generating station in Shanghai.  They claim it’s the world’s largest of its kind, which is undoubtedly true.  The plant is a mite over 6 MW — roughly 8,000 horsepower if you prefer old fashioned English units.  That’s big for a solar plant, but it won’t make a blip on the power needs a city the size of Shanghai.  It would run the air conditioning in a couple of high rise office buildings if you’re needing some sense of scale.  It’s not nothing, but compared to the size of Shanghai (see photo)… yeah, it’s about like nothing.

In China, as we’re weary of being reminded,  everything is done on a mammoth scale.  So I guess you’d rather expect them to have the world’s biggest solarvoltaic plant.  But as is typical of these things wherever you find them, this is less than dinky compared to the problem it seeks to solve.  A typical U.S. power plant fired by coal or natural gas is 900 MW, or 150 times bigger than the new “huge” solar plant.  What counts for a big mover in the power business is 1200 MW or more (1.6 million horsepower), which is 200 times the size of this solar plant.

Even in China where the government can order stuff like this by the decree of some committee of party officials, this is an economic bust.  Green gadgets remain T-ball solutions to a major league problem.  Environmentalists, we’re trying to be on your side, and all of us want to see totally smoke-free energy, but so far the energy doodads being suggested to the worldwide public are just not serious offers.

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