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Cheaper, Simpler Solar Thermal Using Stirling Engines

A recent study found that solar thermal power could provide 25 percent of the world's electricity needs if investments increased and the technology was put in place.  That makes the new design by Stirling Energy Systems for harvesting that energy particularly compelling.

The company claims it has come up with a new solar thermal system that is simpler than other versions of the technology and will make the energy cheaper.  The company plans to start building large solar power plants using this design within the next year.

The system called the SunCatcher consists of a large, mirrored dish that concentrates sunlight onto a Stirling engine.  The temperature difference between the hot and cool sides of the engine drives the pistons, which generate electricity.  Each unit can produce 25 kW of electricity and the company plans on using about 12,000 units in its first project in Southern California for a capacity of 300 MW.

The company expects the electricity to cost about 12 - 15 cents per kWh, which is competitive with electricity prices during peak hours in some markets.

This technology has the benefit of using less water than solar thermal plants that collect heat over a large area to drive turbines in a central facility.  The turbines use a lot of water to keep them cool, but Stirling's design doesn't require water, making it ideal for desert climates where solar thermal is well-suited.

Another advantage to budget cialis their system is that it's easier to increase the amount of viagra super active energy generated by just adding more units instead of having to make a central facility bigger.  The downside to this is that there's no central storage for the the best site cheap levitra india energy that is produced, so right now the system can only make electricity during daylight hours where other solar thermal plants can continue supplying energy overnight.

The storage issue will definitely have to be solved for this new technology to really take hold, but if they can do woman and cialis that, the advantages make this new system really exciting.

via MIT Technology Review

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Comments (7)Add Comment
Isn't the fixation on storage technologies more ...
written by BruceMcF, July 31, 2009
... about past-bound grid management institutions looking for new technologies that fit the management techniques developed for old technologies rather than updating institutions to fit the new technologies?

After all, sunrise is spread across four hours in the continental US, as is sunset, and the hottest part of the day is viagra canadian health often the part of the day with lower average wind speeds. Indeed, as long as different volatile sources are not closely synchronized, a portfolio of a variety of volatile sources from across the continent is much less variable than each individual source, and many of the specific available technologies are in fact negatively correlated, making for an even better fit when put into a portfolio.
written by Bob Wallace, July 31, 2009
Why are they using parabolic reflectors rather than heliostats? Seems like smaller reflectors are less expensive to manufacture and install.

And why can't heat be stored in liquids and that hot liquid used to power a Stirling engine? Seems like it's a question of which is more efficient, turbines or Stirlings.

As for storage, it's valuable. Peak hours extend into the evening. California could furnish power to the East Coast through part of evening peak, but only part. And we're not likely to ship solar over from Hawaii to power California.

If plants include storage then the turbines see more hours of use, thus spreading the cost of the turbines over more productive hours. And, in plants which might switch to gas to original cialis power the turbines after solar heat is used up, less gas would have to be purchased.
written by Fred, July 31, 2009
as long as it saves money its good for them
@ Megan
written by dialtone, July 31, 2009
Megan - look to your own website for the answers - Beacon Energy could store this energy for overnight use or liquid sodium batteries - or compressed air or ...........
written by John in NH, August 05, 2009
the benefit of electric cars is the need for grid balance is not as important any more. for peak loads when production is not in place a smart grid working with a large collection of pure electrics can meet that demand. either way, solar thermal is the way forward for large scale power production
written by Bob Wallace, August 05, 2009
John - I don't understand your post. Would you rewrite?
written by ecog110, November 07, 2011
This technology is already under construction in Illinois and elsewhere. As for evaporation. The water is not gone forever, it just goes up into the atmosphere and levitra from canadian pharmacy comes down elsewhere.

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