Disruptive Technologies… hmmm, I’ll bet there’s more than one definition.
Imagine the increased value of a TED talk if the Speaker was prepared to take a half dozen real questions from real people in the audience. Watch the video, consider writing down a few questions that come to your mind as you listen to her talk, and then consider challenging mine.
Material Sciences? Hey.. they don’t give away PHDs in this stuff! No doubt Martha has the Degree(s), and to get it, she has to have passion for the Nuts and bolts, so we might ask.. just how much control does She have over what the NREL promotes? Keep this one question in mind.. “Why is it that no one at the DOE seems to be interested in the results of the Amonix investment?” The logical conclusion one must draw is that the invesment was made with no expectations of a favorable result….
Notice Martha’s mention of the 30MW Alamosa Colorado Amonix 7700 Power Plant. The 5MW Hatch New Mexico power plant is ON line! This project was deployed prior to the larger Alamosa power plant.
It is now 5/22/2012, with that in mind, let’s look at the NREL’s promotion of Amonix by visiting this page.
Considering that the NREL calls itself a LAB, we’d expect Technicians there to be all giddy about the deployment of the NREL’s touted Multi Junction Cells that Martha promotes, and a little follow-up of that technology right? I mean.. could you give birth to a new and highly efficient Multi Junction Cell, and then not at least ask… “so how’s it working?”
Here’s my short list of questions:
What’s different between the 5MWs of Amonix CPV trackers at Hatch, and the 30MWs of trackers in Alamosa Colorado? It appears that the trackers in Hatch have only been in the field for a year, is that long enough to prove a thing? Did we really need to help fund another 30MWs of trackers at Alamosa, and couldn’t we have waited a bit to see how the Hatch power plant works out?
We know that EPE is buying the 5MW expected to be produced by the Amonix Trackers installed at Hatch, but it appears that the actual amount is a rather ‘disruptive’ 30% short of 5MW, and this is the peak solar production period of the year right? It’s slightly cooler, very close to the summer solstice, and the proven technologies like thin film, mono crystalline, etc. ARE running at full rated capacity in a few checks I have made.
Zach says: “Show me the math.”
Were did that 30% go? Will it come back, and if not will Hatch lose another 30% in the next rolling year?
Isn’t the Alamosa power plant installed? Does the NREL have any interest in what’s going on there, or are they running around in circles looking to bring on more ‘disruptive’ technology?
I’m looking forward to a page at the NREL called “Ask Martha”, a place where we can go to get the answers we’d expect since we’re being forced to fund part of the bill. .. and of course.. if we find out we’re all wet and far too critical of the NREL, a place where we can go to make an apology….
But… here’s another video clip to watch
How many prototypes must we build to test them? Do we need to fund 35MWs worth of 7700s in order to test them? And if your answer is… the 7700s were well tested, then I ask by whom? and just where did that missing capacity go? Ahh, you think I’m being too critical of Martha? That’s why the comment section is here.
If the technology is proven, and there’s a proven return on investment to be had, why do we need the DOE to fund it, and furthermore isn’t that beyond the scope of the NREL? I think Martha shares the mission rather clearly… and funding technology ready for production doesn’t appear to be the goal…. does it?
5/26/12 added note:
If you look at the above Chart copied from EPE’s power production recorder for Hatch, you can see that the wind is blowing in Hatch, and it looks as if the trackers were stowed in the 1300 hour of production, and near all of the 1400 hour of production, and we can see at near the end of the 1500 hour of production, very little was made. I could have waited to see how the after noon shaped up, but there is little time to watch today, so I posted what I did see. Looking at the weather underground, I saw that some predicted winds of 20mph in Hatch, and others predicted 25MPH for today. I am told the 7700 trackers in Hatch ‘stow’ at 28mph, so it’s possible this location sees winds just a little higher than what/where the weather people sample/read the wind speeds.
Here’s the following day and we see that the power plant once again triggered on a wind event that caused the trackers to stow, we note that this is a peak production hour, and we see that it is highly likely that other wind events followed and really cut the heart out of the production day.
As I re-read the claims of high efficiency for the Amonix 7700, I recalled a post I saw made by another guy who had at least a question or two for the folks that hype this system. We do know that the lenses are round, and that there are 30 each per plate.. it’s easy enough to figure the square area of the box, and compare that to the total area of the 30 circles within that box which allows us to calculate the surface area that really doesn’tdo any work for us as per the conversion of Solar radiation into electrical energy. I do wonder how manyof these little things the NREL took into consideration before they decided to ‘promote’ this concentrator design, and it’s deployment in a place like Hatch?
Yes, I’m only curious, I’m not a professional designer by any means.. but i am startig to wonder how many professional were involved in tailoring the PV power plant to the Hatch Environment.
What efforts were made to use average wind speeds and predict these hours where the trackers are stowed at this location and remove them from the expected total annual KWHs of production? What wind data can we find to show the number of events with wind gusts high enough to stow the panels, and the number of events that might reset the counter to zero that would force the trackers to remain in ‘stow’?
These are all things that would make for a great conversation with the NREL Lab Rats.. Most of us assume that CPV is far more complex than making a good piece of silicon, I’m sure Martha knows that, and wouldn’t it be exciting to get her account of how Hatch is really performing in comparision to the expectations of the NREL?
All the Best,