Hard Solar Realities in Puerto Rico
Anson Fogel
50615

A few checks below. The bottom line is: the article’s cost of solar-PV is overestimated, of nuclear power underestimated, and of batteries at present in the ball-park (optimistic). A solution that uses existing infrastructure, namely existing solar/wind that can be expanded and complemented with the existing 510 MW gas power plant and 2.5+ GW Fuel Oil plants to deal with intermittency for the near-term, is a far better and rapidly deployable option, with realistic longer term possibilities for decarbonisation.

Batteries

- Lithium ion batteries in Tesla’s car are not comparable to those in phones (different chemistries). Phone chemistry is Lithium Cobalt Oxide, Tesla uses NCA batteries (Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide). This makes the comment about longevity of phone’s moot

The performance for Yanchi and Puerto Rico is comparable based on renewables ninja: https://www.renewables.ninja/

- Yanchi solar Park (used for the analysis) is located in China at Lat 37.7923 Long 107.3905 (2-axis tracker capacity factor around 22.2% with 80% performance)

- Puerto Rico is located at Lat 18.2214, Long -66.4133) (2-axis tracker capcaity factor of 20.6% with 80% performance

The author makes a spelling error mentioning MWh instead of GWh and a calculation error using 380 instead of 525 in the calculation here

“Yanchi produced 525 Mw hours in 2016 from 380 MegaWatts of PV solar panels. We need 20,000 Mw hours for Puerto Rico, so we divide 20,000 (the total need) / 380 (the total Yanchi plant output) = 52.6 .”

In no way that 380 MW of solar-PV would produce 525 MWh over a year. This would be on the order of 380 * 8760 * 0.80 * 0.206 =549 GWh, hence MWh is not correctly outlined and the author means GWh.

this should have been based on the provided source 19.430 / 549 = 35.4, so about 2/3rds of the estimate of 52.6.

However, this does not include that a chunk of the produced power would likely be curtailed (not matching with demand).

The Solar-PV price is 50% to high already based on using outdated values from this report from September 2016 for values in 4th qrt 2015/1st qrt 2016 https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2016/09/29/nrel-u-s-utility-scale-solar-costs-fell-below-1-50-per-watt-in-q1-2016-with-charts/

Recent NREL figures point out to 1 USD per watt for 2017

https://renewablesnow.com/news/us-utility-scale-solar-hits-2020-cost-target-doe-583187/

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy17osti/68580.pdf

This together with the lower value brings the estimated total capital cost including all components down from $30 billion to about $20 billion.

The price of batteries is in the low range of things for currently technology, and does make the option for an island wide solution far too costly (based on current battery technology)

The value quoted of a $7 billion Nuclear power plant that can deliver 3.5 GW of peak power is about half of the price of recent US projects.

Recent lifetime extensions of existing US/Canadian 3.5 GW nuclear power plants were evaluated at 9.5–10 Billion USD https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/04/26/canada-aims-for-a-fleet-of-small-modular-nukes/#5f6e356830a8

The 2.2 GW Vogtle AP1000 nuclear reactors in the US were estimated to cost $14 billion US Dollars before cost overruns https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant

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