Solar power to eclipse nuclear in Romania by 2016

November 19, 2012
A demonstration in Bucharest last year opposes plans for a new nuclear plant in Bucharest. Solar power will eclipse nuclear energy in 2016 in Romania if investment in photovoltaic plants continues at the current pace, official figures released on Monday showed.

Solar power will eclipse nuclear energy in 2016 in Romania if investment in photovoltaic plants continues at the current pace, official figures released on Monday showed.

"We expect the installed capacity of to reach 50 to 100 MW at the end of 2012, 500 to 1,000 MW at the end of 2013 and to top 1,500 MW in 2016," an official of the national energy regulator (ANRE), Zoltan Nagy, told a solar power conference.

The two reactors of Romania's sole in Cernavoda produce together around 1,400 MW, accounting for 18 percent of the country's energy needs.

Romania plans to build two more reactors at Cernavoda but has so far failed to find investors willing to come up with the requisite 4.0 billion euros ($5.0 billion).

After a strong increase in wind-power projects over the past two years, Romania is now witnessing a surge in investments in solar energy.

The South Korean group Samsung is currently looking at two potential locations in southwestern Romania to set up plants with a forecast capacity of 45 .

"The share of renewable energy in Romania accounts for 8.0 to 9.0 percent," ANRE president Nicolae Havrilet noted, before stressing that the target was to top 20 percent in 2020.

"With having reached the top limit, solar power now offers the best investment opportunities," he added.

A May 2012 survey by Ernst&Young cited by PV Romania, a website specializing in solar power, says Romania is the sixth most attractive European country for investment in .

Explore further: Solar installations doubled last year, with California leading the way

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1 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2012
To "eclipse" nuclear power in terms of energy output, you'd actually have to build 10 times the capacity in solar plants, or 14,000 MW, simply because the capacity factor of solar power at those latitudes is about 1/10.

And then you have the problem of 14 GW of power coming and going as it pleases the sun.
1 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2012
I love this headline! Great propaganda designed to spread the myth of cheap, clean solar energy to replace that dirty old nuclear plant. The author ignores capacity factors, but they also presume the current exponential growth rate continues without regard for the improbable investment required.

It's easy to increase capacity by a factor of 5 in a year when you're starting with close to zero (from 1 to 5 MW). It's still easy in year #2 (from 5 to 50 MW). Year #3 gets harder (adding 250 WM), & year #4 is quite difficult (1,250 WM more) because few investors will be willing to put up that kind of money. Year #5 (adding 6,250 MW) is virtually impossible, and that amount is needed to equal Cernavoda's output because solar runs at 20% Capacity Factor (or less) and Cernavoda has historically run at 86% capacity.

Also, baseload energy (any sort) can not be "dumped" from the grid. It is either used or the plant reduces its power output which in turn lowers the capacity factor.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2012
All these criticisms of photovoltaic power notwithstanding, all one really does in maintaining these plants is just dusting off the collectors once in a while, and keeping the mary-wanna plants from vining them over....and, oh yes, topping up the storage batteries with distilled water once in a while. Boring, but not dangerous. You want danger, go work on the output distribution lines and towers. That is where all this silent solar goodness goes to work. Love nuclear power too. Hey I love physics, and energy is the heart of it all. We need fusion too, so we can to go deep space and claim our manifest destiny as a species native to this system. God gave us this world to achieve adulthood. We now need to move on to our other worlds in this system in order to grow.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
1. Nuclear plants do not run at 100% load factor.

So you need only 1260 MW of power to replace a 1400 MW unit at 90% load factor. That hardly changes the argument.

2. Solar output closely matches power demand curves

In the summer. Half the reason why solar has such a poor load factor is because it produces little in the winter when the demand is up.

3. Please support your assertion that capacity factor is 10%

2011: capacity 2.9 MWp, production 2.0 GWh which is 0.2283 MWa or 7.8% capacity factor.

I was being optimistic with 10%. It is often much worse.

4. Because demand often goes way down at night - nuclear power ends up being dumped

No it isn't. That's just bullcrap.

Typically the power demand of a country swings down to about half in the night, and the more north you live (the more heat you need) the more stable the demand is because appliances and lights are dwarfed by the heaters.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
Why do we need to keep addressing the same lies over and over?

Because they are not lies but reality. It's in fact your over-optimistic dreams that are the lie.

In order to "eclipse" the Cernavodă nuclear power plant with photovoltaic power, you need to produce 5,178 GWh of output per year. That represents 591 MWa which translates to 7,577 MWp of solar power with an average Cp of 7.8%

In other words, they have to build 5½ times more solar power than the article leads you to believe to actually produce equal amounts of energy.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
all one really does in maintaining these plants is just dusting off the collectors once in a while

That's actually a part of the reason why the real capacity factor for photovoltaic panels is so poor. The PV-cells suffer from an effect called shading, where one shaded cell in a series of cells constricts the current for all the cells and reduces the output. It also heats up the shaded cell because the other cells are forcing current through it, and some power is lost.

Since the output voltage of a single cell is just around 0.7 Volts, the cells in a basic solar panel are all connected in series to give you 10-20 Volts at the terminals.

It makes the panels sensitive to dust and dirt.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
Spain is around 20 - 25%


Total solar power in Spain was 3.859 GW by the end of 2010 and solar energy produced 6.9 terawatt-hours

6900 GWh / 8760 h = 0.79 GWa
0.79 GWa / 3.859 GWp = 0.20 = 20%

That 20% is achieved mainly by solar-thermal plants.

The difference is that solar-thermal plants aren't measured by their mirror area and the amount of radiation they collect, but by the size of the turbine they drive, so you can actually choose your load factor arbitrarily all the way up to 100% simply by installing a smaller turbine. Choosing a smaller load factor is only a question of economy and demand.

With solar-thermal you can build a baseload station that works steadily all day and night, or you can use it for load following in the short term. It operates much more like a conventional powerplant - completely unlike photovoltaic panels.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 28, 2012
A good example case of a solar-thermal plant:


Gemasolar, with its 19.9 MW of power, can supply 110 GWh per year

That translates to a load factor of 63%

In the mean time, the photovoltaic installations in Spain get load factors around 15%

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