A reader emailed me these interesting comments about the "Mildura Solar Tower" which I gleefully reproduce below, editing out any data which might indentify my correspondent.
So we have "a renewable energy plant that pumps out the same power as a small reactor but is totally safe". Yes , and it produces "200 megawatts, enough electricity to power 200,000 homes". Plus it needs 25,000 acres to produce "essentially free" energy from the sun. In addition, it needs "government funding" which is code for subsidies, because any return on investment (if any) will take more than 10 years.
Well 25,000 acres is 39 square miles (101 sq. km). In that same area, we could locate at least 39 BIG nuclear reactors, (distributed across a country) which would generate at least 39,000 megawatts, enough electricity to power 39,000,000 homes. So in answer to your question, why Australia? Australia is mostly empty space. Almost everywhere else it would be a big waste. Maybe the Sahara could be used for that.
Imagine trying to do the same in say, Puerto Rico. We need 5000 Mw of power. That means 25 Solar Towers and 975 square miles at 39 sq. miles per. But our total area is about 3500 square miles and that would mean almost 30% of our territory. Hard to do when you have more than 1000 persons/square mile. I wonder what conservationists are thinking about this project.
Which was followed in short order with, (on reflection I suspect):
About 200 Mw being good for 200,000 homes, whoever figured that out allocated 1000 watts per home. That may power about ten 100-watt light bulbs, or one fridge plus one or two lights and one desktop computer. :-) Maybe they plan to produce the power for greenie homes only. I would say 100,000 "normal" homes, as not all will be consuming at the same rate simultaneously (that's called diversity factor in the power business).
And experience says that the nukes are very safe, there's no problem getting rid of (or storing) the waste (hell we have been doing it for 50 years) once you manage to shed the scares and panics away.
I was hoping a Greeny might point to the facts above but alas, no, not an outside chance of any of them realising the nitty-gritties of supplying electrical power considering basic economics, supporting instead, the philosophy absolving them of any personal responbility for anything, the outsiders of the commerical world invoke "them" or "guvmint" to solve society's problems.
(groan - another oil company funded advertisement they sigh) Well, believe that and you should stand in line for the presentation of "Idiot of the Week Award", (or IOWA).
Prof. Stott refers to an excellent paper on a recent climate change event here.
One Sun the meteorologist of days gone by lived at the South Pole. He/She then recorded a temperature - 40 degrees Celsius.
The one fine day in the spring, One Sun met some entreprising sailors on a Hadley Centre Research Vessel, and hitched a ride to the lovely island of Pollyamnesia.
On arriving, One Sun pulled out her/his PC thermometer and measured its temperature.
Arrrgggggg! He/She shrieked! he earth has warmed, my thermometer tells me so, Alas we are globally warming!
Shriek He/She did, and by graphs and beating over heads with Hockey Sticks, did convince the masses, that, Yeah, the Earth has warmed, and Yeah, that in the goodness of time all who have contributed to this warming will be punished, and Yeah, the Good Lord will smile kindly on those who have uttered warmful phrases.
In the meantime everyone else from OneSun were busily preparing their tax returns, oblivious to the fact that the earth had warmed from a previous icy state.