This is going to hurt: World’s largest solar plant applying for federal grant to pay off federal loan.

After already receiving a controversial $1.6 billion construction loan from U.S. taxpayers, the wealthy investors of a California solar power plant now want a $539 million federal grant to pay off their federal loan.


Ivanpah is the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. It was unveiled in February with great fanfare. Dr. Ernest Moniz, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, justified taxpayers’ investment at the time, saying, “We want to be technology leaders. It’s good for our economy and it’s also good for helping stimulate the global transition to low carbon.”

But since then the plant has not lived up to its clean energy promise. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the plant produced only about a quarter of the power it’s supposed to, a disappointing 254,263 megawatt-hours of electricity from January through August, not the million megawatt-hours it promised.

A NRG spokesman blamed the weather, saying the sun didn’t shine as often as years of studies predicted.

Really? So not only does it fry birds in mid air. It is not economically viable as an electricity producer.

From the article, the people asking for taxpayer money say “the money is there for the taking.” Well yes. And guess who gets took?

Update: This comment on the technical details is interesting.

A snippet from the comment:

…for the full 8 Months of operation, this plant has delivered only 254GWH of power from all three units.

That works out to a Capacity Factor of, umm, wait for it, 11.4%, which equates to 2 hours and 44 minutes a day averaged across that full 8 Months.

And it gets worse. The plant is shut down in the winter.