Logan County Co-op Solar Output 2021
Dec-Feb averaged 2000kWh/mo, Oct-Nov 4000kWh, and March-Sept 6000kWh. Combined, the yield of this 40kW system for all of 2021 was 58,730kWh.
How do we convert kW to kWh? Easy; multiply by the number of hours in the equivalent time period. There were 365 days in 2021, as a non-leap year. So 365 x 24 = 8760 hours. Keep in mind that the Logan County's Co-op's solar array is rated 40kW, while Invenergy's solar field here is planned for 280 MW (which is 280,000kW).
Therefore, a power plant rated 40kW could produce 350,400 kWh (or 350.4 MWh) operating at full capacity over a year however, the Co-op's 40 kW array only generated 58,730 kWh for the whole year - only 16.7% of its rated capacity. In December through February, it was averaging 2,000 kWh/mo, which is a mere 7% of its rated capacity! Solar makes more sense in southwestern states where this average can exceed 25%.
Let me explain why. For starters, the sun doesn't shine 24/7; it rises and sets each day, so we should never expect more than 50% of full capacity. It takes the baking brightness of full, direct sunlight for a solar panel to produce its rated output, which only happens a few hours/day. Light cloud cover and it quickly drops down to 10-20% of its rating. Evening/morning/heavy cloud cover, it drops even lower, down to around 5-9%. Any snow accumulation, 0-4%. Nighttime, it's a flat 0%.
Why is this a problem you ask? One moment your solar panels are producing an excess of power; and the next, a cloud has blocked the sun, and its output has abruptly dropped to 5-20% of its rating. This means solar cannot replace conventional sources of electricity without huge batteries. Additionally, one cannot significantly reduce the capacity of conventional sources of electricity, because they must always be ready to take full load - be it for intermittent clouds, extended cloud cover, or nighttime.
But it's still offsetting fossil fuel usage right? Yes, but not at the advertised rates. It takes time to bring additional generation capacity online. With the abruptly changing output of solar, power plants have to sometimes leave generators running but not contributing, in order to be ready to adjust immediately and regulate the voltage. This wastes fuel.
Since we've established an average 16.7% solar yield for our area, that suggests Fountain Point's advertised "280 MW" industrial solar facility will average 46.7 MW, and in winter months, we can expect a mere 19.7 MW. This is in contrast to a conventional power station, which if rated 280 MW, could do its full rating any time of day or night as needed.
So could 460 Fountain Point Facilities power Ohio? Technically yes, the "55,000 homes" figure - while very deceptive - is normalized based on yearly cumulative usage, so the needed kWh should all be there for the year. But without batteries, all the excess power generation would go to waste; it would come up terribly short in the winter, there would be blackouts anytime there wasn't full sun and there would be no power at night. Therefore, it would only be possible if you had millions of tons of toxic and expensive batteries that could store the excess energy generated during the sunny days and feed it into the grid during cloudy and winter days.