Walt Disney World announces 50 megawatt solar facility

Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 2:13 PM | Contributed by Jeff

From the Disney Parks Blog:

Walt Disney World Resort recently embarked on a new initiative in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and solar project developer Origis Energy USA to bring a new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility online by the end of the year, generating enough renewable clean energy to power two of its four theme parks in Central Florida!

This solar facility will include half a million solar panels and will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 57,000 tons per year. That’s the annual equivalent of removing 9,300 automobiles from the roads. More broadly, this initiative will join the numerous efforts The Walt Disney Company has launched to deliver its 2020 goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2012.

Read more from Disney Parks Blog.

Friday, April 20, 2018 9:02 PM

I applaud Disney. This is how you effect real change.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018 1:56 AM

But we're bringing coal back!!!!!!!!!!one!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:12 AM

US coal is doing fine. A lot of it is being exported. Much of it to Asia (with significant growth in electricity demand expected for decades). Some of it to Germany (they have built additional coal generated capacity recently).

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Saturday, April 21, 2018 4:15 PM

If by doing fine, you mean it had a slight uptick after a decade of decline, sure. It has no future. It's not even an issue of it being a fossil fuel, as others are just cheaper and easier to produce.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018 12:05 AM

I attended a finance conference recently. Leaders from across the country in terms of complex financing transactions (many with global practices). Panels with legal and non-legal experts in the various subjects covered. Some panels were based on energy (at least in part). Important to note that folks providing financing of various projects/transactions are pretty much agnostic in terms of the nature of the projects/transactions themselves; they just want to make money. So anything that has no future won't find support from these folks out of populist views, saving jobs, supporting unions, etc.

Between now and 2050, the number of people for whom electricity will need to be generated is expected to almost double (from 3.7 billion consumers today to 7.1 billion in 2050). Other sources of energy can't supplant coal and meet that increased demand. Largest growth in global demand is expected in India, China, Africa and South America. Significant portion of the increased demand in those regions is expected to be met with coal generation. US coal production is expected to remain pretty much the same over that period. Renewables are expected to generate something less than 1/2 of electricity that coal generates by 2035. Consistent with what I have read/heard recently with respect to energy. No future? Not really.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018 10:01 AM

That's not the whole story. US electricity consumption leveled off about a decade ago despite annual increases in population, and last year it actually decreased. That "other sources of energy can't supplant coal" is false. Funny thing about renewables is that they're unlimited in supply, now and forever. The models for solar alone already exist for more centralized generation and storage (Kauai and a number of other islands) as well as more distributed generation and storage (residential and local generation). The Kauai co-op is particularly interesting, because their customers are paying very close to what we do here in Central Florida. And this doesn't even consider the wider adoption of wind farms, which is a little more controversial because people don't like to look at them.

Coal does not have a future, whether it's losing to natural gas or anything else. Disney didn't choose to fire up a coal plant in the swamp.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018 2:38 PM

Honestly can't believe we're having this argument, but ....

1) https://www.brookings.edu/2018/01/22/chinas-coal-consumption-has-peaked/

Key takeaway from that article "First of all, the 3 percent increase of China’s coal consumption was likely to be an overestimate"

2) US Coal production remaining steady, isn't the same as coal "coming back". While volume of coal produced peaked just before 2010 and has been dropping ever since, Employment in the sector has dropped 74% in +/- 35 years. So in an employment sense, coal is never coming back. The fact that Trump campaigned on it, and the West Virginia hillbillies bought it, is well, par for the course.

3) The areas where coal has "a future" are Asia and Africa. a) Africa primarily because there are several countries that are cash poor, but that actually have coal reserves and thus prioritize coal as a generation source. b) Asia, because China is pushing Coal generation as part of its expansion of its sphere of influence. The reason its push is being warmly received, is again, pushing it to poorer nations that don't have hard currency but do have hard bituminous in the ground.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2139667/new-coa...ete-energy

Again, all of that above is happening because of the race to bring over a billion+ Africans and Asians "from hut to High Rise". Much as China already experienced in the late 90's and early 2000's. However, little to none of that will be for the benefit of American coal producers. That ship has sailed and sunk.

The future is renewables, growth in C&I (commercial and Industrial) solar installations is jumping at 40+% a year, and that rate will most likely continue (albeit with some potential plateauing, primarily due to US Increases in tariffs on foreign PV components).

The fact that Disney, Six Flags and MGM Resorts are investing significant dollars into Commercial scale PV generation should be the hint of where the industry is now and where it's headed in the future. You don't see Universal Studios planning a coal generation facility on that Lockheed land.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Sunday, April 22, 2018 2:53 PM
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Sunday, April 22, 2018 5:43 PM

I would add that all of the job growth is in solar, mostly for installation and maintenance (which is why Trump's tariffs on the panels are moronic... we need the cheap panels). Solar is poised to exceed natural gas, leaving oil as the top employer.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/25/climate/todays-energ...-coal.html

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Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:07 PM

That's not the whole story. US electricity consumption leveled off about a decade ago despite annual increases in population, and last year it actually decreased.

Info I noted above does include the whole story. They included projected decrease in US demand (about 1/35th of the magnitude of the projected increased demand in India).

That "other sources of energy can't supplant coal" is false.

So you are saying you expect coal generation to be 100% replaced with other generation sources by 2050? If not your statement that my statement is false is actually false.

Coal does not have a future, whether it's losing to natural gas or anything else. Disney didn't choose to fire up a coal plant in the swamp.

Had I known your "no future" statement was limited to central Florida (and maybe Hawaii as well), I wouldn't have responded.

Key takeaway from that article

Key takeaway from predictions of peaks with respect to energy is the horrible track record of predicting peaks with respect to energy.

US Coal production remaining steady, isn't the same as coal "coming back". While volume of coal produced peaked just before 2010 and has been dropping ever since, Employment in the sector has dropped 74% in +/- 35 years. So in an employment sense, coal is never coming back. The fact that Trump campaigned on it, and the West Virginia hillbillies bought it, is well, par for the course.

I noted that industry info I have seen indicates that US coal production is expected to remain pretty much the same through 2050 (you don't appear to be contesting that). But I never said coal was "coming back" or anything about the employment in the industry. Also said nothing about Trump. You're arguing points not being contested. And maybe its semantics. Does coal need to "come back" to have a future? To me, coal has a future because it will be a significant source of generation both in the US and globally for at least the next 3 decades. Will there always be coal generation? Doubtful.

The future is renewables, growth in C&I (commercial and Industrial) solar installations is jumping at 40+% a year, and that rate will most likely continue (albeit with some potential plateauing, primarily due to US Increases in tariffs on foreign PV components).

One limiting factor in terms of sustaining high growth rates is simple math. Larger installed base year after year make maintaining same growth rates more challenging (and less likely). Its also a big factor in high growth rates for renewable generation recently because they represent the smallest installed generation source base. Also, there are still large numbers of people (in the US and globally) that live where renewable generation isn't a viable option short of huge transmission/distribution costs which likely result in plateauing as well).

The fact that Disney, Six Flags and MGM Resorts are investing significant dollars into Commercial scale PV generation should be the hint of where the industry is now and where it's headed in the future. You don't see Universal Studios planning a coal generation facility on that Lockheed land.

This is odd reasoning. They aren't building natural gas plants or wind turbines there either. Does that mean there is no future for those technologies as well?

But enough about coal, is the expectation that Disney will replicate the mouse ear formation for solar panels. Or maybe go with a castle shape? :)

Last edited by GoBucks89, Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:09 PM
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Sunday, April 22, 2018 11:24 PM

You're fundamentally misunderstanding the reasoning. Disney can't build their own fossil fuel plants, but they can build solar. Your entire analyst view is based on the idea that the utilities are the entire energy game, and they're simply not in the new world. The entire generation model is upended because it need not be centralized. It's apparently so obvious that people can't see it. Your snark about Kauai flippantly disregards what is possible because it's convenient for your argument. Then you make the bizarre argument that saturation will eventually limit growth? Sounds like renewables win then.

If you're just arguing semantics, that fossil fuels have a short term future (seriously, no ****), then I don't know what you're arguing. Coal still has no future. You'd be insane to invest in anything that believes it does.

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Monday, April 23, 2018 9:28 AM

If coal has no future, what are all the bad kids going to get for Christmas??

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Monday, April 23, 2018 9:53 AM

Used furnace filters.

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Monday, April 23, 2018 9:55 AM

Non-utility generation may be new to amusement parks but its not new to the energy industry (which is much different than the utility industry). The idea that energy analysts view the utilities as the entire energy game is just wrong (and is based at least in part on a certain level of arrogance that you know more about the industry than those who make a living as a part of it).

I wasn't flippantly disregarding the Hawaii project at all. Just that its a blip in terms of global energy. And the reality is (something we discussed already here) is the best wind/solar (with few exceptions) are not where population centers are.

I said saturation would limit growth rates not growth. Forget energy. Anyone familiar with start-ups in any industry understands that initial growth rates are not sustainable. Its just a matter of simple math. That you think that concept is bizarre is quite frankly bizarre.

In terms of investment horizons, 30-40 years is considered long-term. I assure you there are a lot of non-insane investments in coal at this point who likely will do quite well in terms of returns.

Your arguments here strike me as emotional rather than rational. Many technologies won't survive a 30-40 year outlook. So they have no future either apparently. Coal has no future. Oil has no future. War has no future. Bad people have no future. Feel better?

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Monday, April 23, 2018 10:41 AM

I’d just like a phone that lasts more than a year and a half on a two year contract.

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Monday, April 23, 2018 12:37 PM

There's no future in that.

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Monday, April 23, 2018 2:24 PM

Today's New York Times includes an article about wind power that I thought some of you might find interesting:

Article Posted Here

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018 11:31 AM

Raven-Phile said:

If coal has no future, what are all the bad kids going to get for Christmas??

Voided Model 3 reservation forms.

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Monday, April 30, 2018 4:03 PM

Maybe I'm cynical, but isn't the real motivation in Six Flags and Disney building the solar farm is getting free energy out of it? The carbon footprint PR talk is a part of the end result, but if it wouldn't help their bottom line I doubt they would be doing it. I like the idea of solar panels on the roof of my house, but only if the return of investment shows positive results in a reasonable time frame. Powering my house with solar and selling unused electricity back to the grid? I'm on board with that as long as it helps my bottom line.

Energy generation will occur with whatever method makes the most sense economically in any given time period in the world. Which source will dominate in any future period is really as simple as the total costs associated with the technology.

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Monday, April 30, 2018 6:10 PM

Pete said:
Maybe I'm cynical, but isn't the real motivation in Six Flags and Disney building the solar farm is getting free energy out of it?

You say that like it's a bad thing. I'm getting solar as well, and that's certainly the primary motivator. However, "free" is relative, and the ROI takes years to recover. The regulatory scene is uncertain too around net metering, and I'm sure it will get litigated in various state courts as utilities resist distributed generation.

Disney's move here doesn't make them energy independent because there's no storage component. The intent is to over produce during the day as much as possible so it offsets some of the night grid consumption.

I don't know what the ROI period is for a big commercial installation, but it's not instant free power.

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