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The prospects of going exclusively solar, I think, will be driven in large part by economics. There is no need for us to be exclusively solar, we have other options. If solar turns out, in certain instances, in certain areas, for certain applications, to be the technically and economically preferable choice, then we ought to be sure that we have done the research to make it available.
Senator JOHNSTON. What is the value of photovoltaic cell sales in dollars each year?
Miss FITZPATRICK. Worldwide, I think I have those figures. The worldwide total in 1987 was 28.6 megawatts.
Senator JOHNSTON. In terms of dollars, what would that be?
Miss FITZPATRICK. I think that it is about $200 million a year, just in cells themselves. That is not for anything else in the system, it is just for cells.
Senator JOHNSTON. Is this a sufficient amount of spending to develop photovoltaics? I see you have a $24.2 million budget here; is that enough?
Miss FITZPATRICK. I think that it is enough. It is tight, but I think it is sufficient to achieve our program goals. Industry spending is also going up in the United States, that is running about $50 million a year.
Our work is done in large part in collaboration with industry. We have several projects with the leading photovoltaic manufacturers in the United States, which are running on 50-percent cost shares. Those have been quite successful.
Senator JOHNSTON. On the one hand, I hear that there is the possibility of these huge breakthroughs, figures that we thought were unattainable a few years ago, and that really look very promising. Yet I see a relatively small budget compared to the money we used to spend. We used to spend in the hundreds of million of dollars for photovoltaics.
Miss FITZPATRICK. Yes, sir.
Senator JOHNSTON. I suspect we spent, counting tax credits, billions, I guess, on solar energy in this country, not most of that on photovoltaics, but at least it makes me wonder whether or not that is enough.
Miss FITZPATRICK. I think you are right. We did a count about 2 years ago, and I think we came up with something like $5 billion in outlays plus credits for renewable energy.
WIND ENERGY RESEARCH
Senator JOHNSTON. What are you doing in wind energy research?
Miss FITZPATRICK. In wind energy, we are concentrating on structural mechanics of the wind turbines themselves. This has turned out to be one of the serious problems with wind turbines. After a year, or 2 years, or 3 years, maybe a little more, in operation, the turbine blade undergoes structural fatigue and can, in fact, break. This has been a problem with virtually all wind turbines.
Senator JOHNSTON. I fly between San Francisco and Yosemite, over those wind farms—how much has been invested out there, how many tens of millions?
Miss FITZPATRICK. I couldn't tell you, but it has a lot of wind turbines, though, thousands of them.
Senator JOHNSTON. But most of them are not turning, why is that?
Miss FITZPATRICK. If you go over on a summer afternoon, they are turning.
Senator JOHNSTON. Say that again?
Miss FITZPATRICK. If you fly over on a summer afternoon, they are turning. The newer turbines on the well-managed wind farms have an availability of over 95 percent.
Senator JOHNSTON. I am usually on summer morning. They turn only in the afternoon?
Miss FITZPATRICK. They are designed to turn as summer peaking power. That is their main function, to supply the utilities with summer peaking power. They are placed on that site because, typically, the winds do rise in midday in the summertime and flow from the coast over that mountain pass into the desert to the east.
Senator JOHNSTON. They are still working?
Miss FITZPATRICK. No; they are paying off. Those are going concerns now, and that technology is attracting a good deal of private investment.
OCEAN ENERGY SYSTEM RESEARCH Senator JOHNSTON. Ocean energy, is that the old OTEC? Miss FITZPATRICK. Yes, sir.
Senator JOHNSTON. But they didn't build the OTEC. They built miniOTEC, was it?
Miss FITZPATRICK. We built a very small shipboard, barge OTEC plant.
Senator JOHNSTON. Is it still operating?
Miss FITZPATRICK. No; it was dismantled several years ago. We have, at the Seacoast Test Facility in Hawaii, a new cold water pipe, and we are doing heat exchanger and turbine compressor experiments. Our eventual goal is to operate a 165-kilowatt OTEC system.
Senator JOHNSTON. The last time I did a fix on that, that looked like an absolute candidate for noneconomically passing muster. Isn't that so?
Miss FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, if you look at our budget request, you will see that we don't ask very much for it. I have to admit, that from the United States point of view, for solving our energy needs, OTEC is not at the top of our priority list.
Senator JOHNSTON. Why $3.1 million?
Miss FITZPATRICK. Because there are a number of things that can be done that we would need for an OTEC system, such as heat exchangers, low-pressure compressors, and high-volume pumps, that would be useful in other applications, especially the heat exchangers.
There is also a good possibility that the technologies developed, that would be useful in an OTEC system, would also be very useful for a bottoming cycle, that is, taking warm waste streams from conventional powerplants, for example, and extracting the energy that we are now throwing away into rivers, for example, in many cases.
If we had the ability to make use of fairly low temperature waste streams, we could, in fact, have a large energy gain. This would be useful in other applications than ocean thermal.
Ocean thermal does have the possibility of being attractive for tropical, and especially island applications, if you could economically build a plant, say, in the 5-megawatt range.
Senator JOHNSTON. But to build a plant in the 5-megawatt range, it would be enormously expensive. You would have to develop this enormously expensive technology, which you could use only two or three places in the world-Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippine Trench-or something which would produce but 5 megawatts and that is about all you would need. I have never understood it, but it is not much money, as you point out.
SOLAR ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE FACILITY Why do we need to build a new building for SERI? When solar energy has been going down and down, why do we need to build a 100,000-square-foot building in a time of budget stringency?
Miss FITZPATRICK. The reason is that most of the laboratory facilities at SERI are in what is really a converted office building. The building was not put up as a laboratory, and it has had to be refitted with the equipment and systems that are necessary for a laboratory.
We are at this point stretching the bounds of what can be effectively and safely done. For example, there are no special facilities to handle toxic materials, either to store them or to use them. We need to have safer ventilation systems and evacuation hoods. We can't now isolate the laboratory's air supply and exhaust.
We have even had instances where we have had to remove the external wall of a building in order to bring equipment in. The building was not designed with the elevator and hallway passages for moving laboratory equipment.
We have reached the point where the facilities that are there are not adequate. They are not safe for doing the work that we know is going to have to be done in our future solar research. We think that a new building is justified, even at the relatively reduced levels of funding that we are proposing.
Senator JOHNSTON. I would have to be persuaded that we have the money to be able to do that.
SUPERCONDUCTING SUPER COLLIDER Dr. Decker, you have a ramp up from $25 million to $363 million for 1989 for the SSC. Can you do ramp up that fast in 1 year?
Dr. DECKER. I believe that we do have a reasonable plan for doing that, and I think that it is what it really takes to keep the project on the schedule that we have laid out. There is a ramp up in the research and development from $25 to $64 million that will be used to continue research and development on the magnets and also to start doing some research and development on the detectors. The capital equipment request of $16 million also really supports the research and development
program and will provide for vesting and analysis of magnets and other components and systems.
In the construction area, mostly we are talking about doing detailed engineering design for technical systems and conventional systems. To date, what we have are conceptual designs, and we need now to move to detailed design.
We also have a number of long-lead procurement items that we need to acquire, things like injector technical components, which are early critical path items. We also have some other long-lead procurement items such as magnet tooling, superconducting materials, magnet steel, and so forth.
Senator JOHNSTON. I just can't imagine being able to ramp up that much. You don't have an EIS, and that is going to delay this project a great deal. We don't know how it is going to be managed and who is going to manage it. We have thought about the need to put out an RFP for a management contract. I don't know whether you need that.
I know you are having problems with your magnets. They don't quench. Does it mean that the magnetic field is not right, not up to power, or something?
Dr. DECKER. Let me say a few words about the magnet development program.
We have, of course, built the Tevatron at Fermilab using superconducting magnets, and we have a fair experience base from that machine. We set out to improve the magnet design over what we did use at Fermilab to try to keep the costs of the SSC down.
We set out to do things like improve the current carrying capability of the wire by 50 percent, to increase the field strength of the magnet by 50 percent, to reduce the heat loss by a factor of six. We have been able to achieve most of those goals. We have, in fact, achieved all of them in the short magnets that we have built, the l-meter magnets and the 4-meter magnets.
With the full length magnets, which are 16.5 meters, we have met almost all of those design criteria. We have had some problems with what is called training. That has been the most significant difficulty that we have had. It is not a major problem, it is a mechanical problem, or at least that is what causes it. We have several possible solutions for fixing that, and I think that we will, in fact, have that problem fixed very soon.
Senator JOHNSTON. What is the quenching problem?
Dr. DECKER. The quenching problem, I think, is one and the same as this training problem. When you start ramping the current up on a new magnet, it will get up to a certain value, and then it will quench. Then you ramp it up again, and it usually goes up to a higher value, and it may quench again until you get up to the full-field capability of the magnet.
Senator JOHNSTON. None have worked to specification, though, have they?
Dr. DECKER. They have worked to the field specification. Yes, they have reached field specifications, it is just that training is not as good as
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we would like. Certainly, before we go into production, we would like to fix this training problem. As I say, I think we have a number of approaches that will work and we can fix it reasonably soon.
Senator JOHNSTON. Someone may come along and give this subcommittee $363 million, but I haven't seen him yet, and it is a long time until Christmas. As I see it at this point, the hope for SSC is that you can get a smaller budget, put off the major construction commitment for a while, and hope, in the process, that somebody can find a way to finance construction. They haven't thought of anything yet.
The administration submits a budget proposing to cut out the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is OK with me and Senator McClure, because we are not part of Appalachia. Even Senator Domenici doesn't have that problem.
Senator DOMENICI. They have done it three times and it hasn't stuck.
Senator JOHNSTON. So, those kinds of cuts are just not realistic. Congress continues to fund those programs year after year. So I don't know where we are going to get the money for SSC.
Really, $363 million, I must tell you, seems vastly premature. I just don't see how you could spend that kind of money. Maybe you can obligate it, but I rather doubt it, if you got it. There is this figure of continued R&D of $64 million. $65 million is for long-lead procurements for components. Most of this is for developing overall industrial capability.
I am just trying to figure out a firm way to fund SSC.
Can you give us an alternative amount for R&D that would be helpful, but would not involve a commitment of a large expenditure for construction and long-lead items?
Dr. DECKER. I don't believe I could today. The R&D funding is particularly important to this project at this stage.
Senator JOHNSTON. I wish you would come back with a figure. I don't ask you to be against your own project, and against your own budget, but I ask you to assume that what I say is probably correct, that $363 million is out of the question. What would be useful for R&D and what would it do to your schedule?
We don't want to just throw money at the problem and waste it, but what would be useful, and I am thinking of something in the neighborhood of $60 million, in that area, maybe we could find that just in the budget.
Then, of course, there will be the question of whether we should do it at all, which the committee has not made that determination, but I would like to get the widest range of options that we can.
Senator DOMENICI. Mr. Chairman, would you yield on that?
SSC INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPATION
Senator DOMENICI. Might I just share this with you and Senator McClure and Dr. Decker.
At some point, as you know, the SSC is supposed to be an international project, both from the standpoint of its utility and from the