116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Much of the debate over the proposed solar farm at Palo centers on how it utilizes land, one of Iowa's most valuable resources.
We know the proposed project requires 2,630 acres. But do we know how much energy the solar farm will actually produce? We do not. If its true energy producing capability were known, the debate would likely take on a different tone.
We've been told the "Solar I" part of the project is rated at 50 MW. But its effective output will be only 13.25 MW. The "Solar II" project, which boasts 150 MW of output power, will actually be equivalent to a 39.75 MW generator. These paltry solar outputs, compared to the promoters' numbers, come from a failure to apply the "capacity factor" which accounts for the periods during which there is reduced output or no output at all. In solar and wind energy, ignoring the capacity factor results in grossly inaccurate energy numbers. The nuclear plant we are abandoning was also a zero-emission energy source and it had an honest 595 MW output, around the clock.
So if our concern is with intelligent use of Iowa's resources, we should be asking "does it make sense to replace a power plant with one that requires five times the land but generates less than one-tenth of the energy?"
To see the information sources and calculations use in the above comparison, please contact the Linn County Board of Supervisors and ask to see the detailed analysis they were provided.