Reuters has published a story titled PSE&G gets NJ approval to spend $515 mln on solar with some amazing numbers – and at least one that is flat out wrong – related to solar energy systems.
The first numbers which should cause people to question the value of this approved project is that it will result in the installation of just 80 MW of electric power capacity. Please do not forget that the solar industry, like the wind turbine industry, has successfully taught most journalists to quote peak generating capacity numbers, not average capacity numbers. Taking production capacity factors into account, 80 MW of solar capacity will generate less electricity each year than 25 MW of nuclear plant capacity (assuming a capacity factor of 25% for solar and a conservative 80% capacity factor for nuclear.) While ignoring the capacity factor differences that would make the comparison even less favorable, Reuters does point out that the solar project is quite expensive relative to other power generating options:
At $515 million for 80 megawatts, the cost per megawatt for the project is about $6.4 million, while it costs about $500,000/MW for natural gas power plants, $2 million/MW for coal plants and $4 million/MW for nuclear power plants.
Here is the number that is flat out wrong.
When all units are up and generating, 80 MW can power about 640,000 New Jersey households.
That should be just 64,000 households and only when the sun is shining and nearly directly overhead! The editors who allowed it to pass should think about the value of a stray “zero” when negotiating their next pay raise.
Aside: I personally hate the “households” comparison that many writers use. It is not a unit of measure because there is no fixed relationship that can be found. It is also silly to use when talking about electrical power, since almost 2/3’s of the power demand in any particular area is not from casual use in homes, but from commercial and industrial uses that could not be done without substantial POWER. End Aside