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Solar power farm coming to Disney

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
I’m not a solar panel fan whatsoever but it appears that RCID has made smart decisions so far with locating the arrays.

In my practical experience with solar panels I’ve realized that in many cases they just cause wayyyy too many problems. I personally killed the design of a small array over a small parking lot because the supports are bound to be hit by vehicles and I hope that Disney never does anything similar with arrays over their large parking areas.

More recently for an ongoing design project I have, lack of planning with placing arrays on large office and maintance campus of one of our clients is causing me a real headache to try to squeeze in a new warehouse style structure and manage to get long wheel base vehicles to it. The simplest solution would be to remove a section of an array to facilitate ingress and egress of vehicles but the array was installed just a few years ago and the client would like to recoup some more of the capital cost before eliminating portions of the array. My company generally does not recommend installing panels on top of buildings either.
The power per square foot is one of solar powers biggest problems. You currently really need a gigantic open field to make it viable.

While panels on roofs can work and other structures can work, the number of other issues with a roof install seems to increase exponentially.

Hopefully one day they can make a 6x6 panel that can power your average house.
 

danlb_2000

Premium Member
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are they able to build projects like this on land that is otherwise considered wetlands or non buildable? so as to not waste land that could be used for other things in the future?
The Epcot one was built on land that was classified as suitable for construction, and was actually shaped to avoid the unsuitable land that is near it.
 

SeaCastle

Well-Known Member
are they able to build projects like this on land that is otherwise considered wetlands or non buildable? so as to not waste land that could be used for other things in the future?
The Epcot one was built on land that was classified as suitable for construction, and was actually shaped to avoid the unsuitable land that is near it.
The RCID land suitability determinations typically referenced are policy recommendations based on existing conditions like habitat/ecosystem/access/easements. They aren't hard-and-fast rules for where RCID/Disney can and cannot build- state and federal rules/regs and permits are. In some cases - like the Mickey solar field - avoiding the unsuitable areas was likely viewed as a positive for the project because it meant avoiding some fees and expense at mitigating wetland impacts. But future projects will likely build on land heretofore considered unsuitable or marginally suitable. Large portions of wetlands in WDW are actually authorized to be disturbed (and mitigated) under existing permitting programs.
 

GoofGoof

Premium Member
I’m not a solar panel fan whatsoever but it appears that RCID has made smart decisions so far with locating the arrays.

In my practical experience with solar panels I’ve realized that in many cases they just cause wayyyy too many problems. I personally killed the design of a small array over a small parking lot because the supports are bound to be hit by vehicles and I hope that Disney never does anything similar with arrays over their large parking areas.

More recently for an ongoing design project I have, lack of planning with placing arrays on large office and maintance campus of one of our clients is causing me a real headache to try to squeeze in a new warehouse style structure and manage to get long wheel base vehicles to it. The simplest solution would be to remove a section of an array to facilitate ingress and egress of vehicles but the array was installed just a few years ago and the client would like to recoup some more of the capital cost before eliminating portions of the array. My company generally does not recommend installing panels on top of buildings either.
Parking lot installation is very practical. Unless you are blind or just a really bad driver it’s not all that common for people to hit the supports. A lot of lots already have things like light poles throughout. It’s not much different. I work in NJ (home of some of the worst drivers in the country) and the solar panels in our parking lot have never been hit. They also put them in the parking lot of the Eagles stadium in Philly and even drunk tailgaters manage to avoid them. The only reason it’s not a whole lot more common is cost. It’s still cheaper to do what Disney is doing and they have plenty of land.
 

GoofGoof

Premium Member
My thoughts exactly!
Could also use these things on every single ride rooftop and every single hotel rooftop. Every building for that matter. Seems like a logical way to be ultra clean!
It comes down to money and access. It’s just cheaper to build ground level. Also, a third party owns the panels and is responsible for maintenance so Disney would have to allow them access to hotel rooftops and the parking lots to service. Not really a big deal and there are plenty of backstage buildings they could use which wouldn’t impact the parks at all, but it could still be a factor.

If they ever wanted to go 100% solar they would need to use rooftops and parking lots. Even Disney doesn’t own enough usable land to make that much solar power at ground level.
 

DocMcHulk

Well-Known Member
The news release said the new solar facility is expected to generated 120,000 MWHs a year so it’s roughly 10% of the total usage.
What news release are you referencing? I only saw the Sentinel article that didnt have expected year output listed.
 

DocMcHulk

Well-Known Member
You’re close. Running the system size through NREL’s PVWatts calculator, it will probably produce closer to 750,000 MWh per year
That doesnt make sense at all. To get 750,000 MWh per year the panels would need to run at 100% efficiency (100% total sunlight) for 41 hours/day. There's more than a few issues with that math.
 

GeneralKnowledge

Well-Known Member
That doesnt make sense at all. To get 750,000 MWh per year the panels would need to run at 100% efficiency (100% total sunlight) for 41 hours/day. There's more than a few issues with that math.
There is one thing wrong with my math. I was off by a factor of 10. For some reason after I read the article my brain changed the system size to 500MW. The rest of the math is sound though.

In the rough way you’re looking at it, it would come out to 4.1 hours a day. In reality the conditions will exist where there are more the 4.1 hours of sunlight but also some deductions for efficiency and losses.
 

DisneyCane

Well-Known Member
Parking lot installation is very practical. Unless you are blind or just a really bad driver it’s not all that common for people to hit the supports. A lot of lots already have things like light poles throughout. It’s not much different. I work in NJ (home of some of the worst drivers in the country) and the solar panels in our parking lot have never been hit. They also put them in the parking lot of the Eagles stadium in Philly and even drunk tailgaters manage to avoid them. The only reason it’s not a whole lot more common is cost. It’s still cheaper to do what Disney is doing and they have plenty of land.
Also, parking garages have support columns all over the place and people manage to avoid them. The main issue with parking lot installation is the additional expense of having to elevate the panels high enough for vehicle clearance.

Even if Disney covered all parking lots and rooftops with panels, they wouldn't have enough to go totally solar. The lots aren't as big as they seem. Epcot is around 87 acres and TTC around 150 acres.

As somebody stated above, the #1 issue with solar as a viable significant energy source is that the panels are very inefficient in converting solar energy into electricity. The best commercially available panels seem to be about 22% efficient and most panels are around 15%. For solar to really be practical from the standpoint of panel area required, that number needs to at least double, if not triple.

Although it would be crazy expensive and ruin the night time view, probably what would make the most sense is to cover the moon with solar panels and relay the energy to earth via concentrated laser beams or something. Wind turbines are ugly enough but at least they don't take up that much of a footprint. There isn't enough viable land on earth for current technology solar to contribute a significant percentage of worldwide power demand. I guess barges out in the middle of the ocean could be an option?
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
Also, parking garages have support columns all over the place and people manage to avoid them. The main issue with parking lot installation is the additional expense of having to elevate the panels high enough for vehicle clearance.

Even if Disney covered all parking lots and rooftops with panels, they wouldn't have enough to go totally solar. The lots aren't as big as they seem. Epcot is around 87 acres and TTC around 150 acres.

As somebody stated above, the #1 issue with solar as a viable significant energy source is that the panels are very inefficient in converting solar energy into electricity. The best commercially available panels seem to be about 22% efficient and most panels are around 15%. For solar to really be practical from the standpoint of panel area required, that number needs to at least double, if not triple.

Although it would be crazy expensive and ruin the night time view, probably what would make the most sense is to cover the moon with solar panels and relay the energy to earth via concentrated laser beams or something. Wind turbines are ugly enough but at least they don't take up that much of a footprint. There isn't enough viable land on earth for current technology solar to contribute a significant percentage of worldwide power demand. I guess barges out in the middle of the ocean could be an option?
The answer, for now at least, is nuclear. Given all the other options, nuclear has the perfect balance of low pollution, steady output and a small footprint. IMHO, it would be the quickest way to get us off coal while solar, wind, water and battery technology get to the point where they are viable.
 

DisneyCane

Well-Known Member
The answer, for now at least, is nuclear. Given all the other options, nuclear has the perfect balance of low pollution, steady output and a small footprint. IMHO, it would be the quickest way to get us off coal while solar, wind, water and battery technology get to the point where they are viable.
100% agree. Unfortunately, too many people are scared by nuclear to bring this to fruition. A realistic electricity generation plan would be something like 40% nuclear, 20% wind, 10% solar, 6% hydroelectric, 24% natural gas. Realistically, renewable energy isn't going to reach 50%+ anytime soon. The technology just isn't there yet.
 

michmousefan

Well-Known Member
100% agree. Unfortunately, too many people are scared by nuclear to bring this to fruition. A realistic electricity generation plan would be something like 40% nuclear, 20% wind, 10% solar, 6% hydroelectric, 24% natural gas. Realistically, renewable energy isn't going to reach 50%+ anytime soon. The technology just isn't there yet.
Nuclear would be fine if Congress would just have the courage to choose a place to store most of the waste and live with it.
 

ABQ

Well-Known Member
Good luck on that happening! Didn't they already supposedly come up with that place in the middle of nowhere in Nevada? Then it became a problem with transport or something (I don't remember the exact controversy).
Yucca Mountain, I believe is what you're referring to. Not sure why that went off the rails. I think most of the waste planned for there was diverted to the big old hole in the ground out my way in Carlsbad, NM. The W.I.P.P. Though that is or was meant to store nuclear waste resulting from research and weapons building, not power plants.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
Yucca Mountain, I believe is what you're referring to. Not sure why that went off the rails. I think most of the waste planned for there was diverted to the big old hole in the ground out my way in Carlsbad, NM. The W.I.P.P. Though that is or was meant to store nuclear waste resulting from research and weapons building, not power plants.
It is a shame the US put the brakes on recycling nuclear fuel in the late 70's.
 

Brad Bishop

Well-Known Member
The answer, for now at least, is nuclear. Given all the other options, nuclear has the perfect balance of low pollution, steady output and a small footprint. IMHO, it would be the quickest way to get us off coal while solar, wind, water and battery technology get to the point where they are viable.
Plus we need to refurb spent rods, as France and other places do, to reduce waste.
 
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