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Jax’s Link-O-Rama: Solar Edition

It’s a cold, foggy day in San Francisco, so I’m going to throw a bunch of sunshine on the grill (and by grill, I mean internet, naturally).

Photo from Amanda Lynne Ballard: sunset

Photo is from JimOnLight fab photog Amanda Lynne Ballard.

  • New favorite holiday: Solar Day! (CleanTechnica)
  • The US Air Force is one of the biggest purchasers of wind power in the country, and now the military is digging into solar power, too.  Cool. (CleanTechnica)
  • New import product from the Sahara! (Inhabitat)
  • Transmission-connected solar farm, finally! (CleanTechnica)
  • Not solar powered, but sunburnt: did you go to Coachella?  Did you wonder how they pulled off powering that whole thing?  Here’s how. (TPI Magazine)
  • Not quite there yet: solar-powered air conditioning. (EcoGeek)
  • Upping the competition in the solar market: super-skinny solar film. (Earth2Tech)
  • How to decide whether you should go solar. (CleanTechnica)
  • Want a solar power, but it’s too pricey?  PG&E has an idea. (Earth2Tech)
  • Google’s handing out solar-powered gizmos to doctors with IMC. (CleanTechnica)

Concentrated Solar Power – 25% of the World’s Power Needs?

csp

I think that the little solar reflectors look like machines praying to some big solar deity.  How cute!

But seriously, apparently using CSP (or concentrated solar power – the little praying sun mirrors) in deserts around the world will provide a whole bunch of power – about 25% of the projected need – by 2050.  It feels a little premature to predict that far ahead, but I’m not a scientist or predictor-of-solar-power-needs-person.

From the article at Consumer Energy Report:

“Concentrating solar power could meet up to 7 percent of the world’s projected power needs in 2030 and a full quarter by 2050,” accroding to the joint report conducted by the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA), environmental group Greenpeace, and the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) SolarPACES group.

According to those estimations, massive investments will be needed in order to improve upon existing technologies. The 28-page report says that 174 billion euros ($243 billion) per year would need to be invested by 2050. Under that scenario, solar power plants would have installed capacity of 1,500 GW.

At the end of 2008 CSP capacity was around 430MW, and worldwide investment in the technology will reach 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion).  CSP uses arrays of hundreds of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays to temperatures between 400 and 1,000 Celsius (750-1,800 Fahrenheit) to provide energy to run a power plant.

Recently, a research expert noted that the Sahara Desert has the capacity to supply all of Europe’s electricity needs by installing an array of solar panels, due to the strong sun in the region.

Well, what do you know?  I’m feeling a bit negative today, but I really, really hope that all of our gung-ho-ness about solar power doesn’t peter out any time soon.  It just feels like we should be dumping metric crap-tons of money into this technology.

Solar Power Tower in Seville, Spain – 20MW

solar power tower

Commercial operation of the world’s second solar power tower has begun in Seville, Spain – the Solúcar Platform by Abengoa Solar, a PS20, has a yield of 20 megawatts, and far surpassed expectations during its testing phase.  From the press release at Abengoa Solar:

Following the conclusion of the successful three-day production and operational testing period, Abengoa Solar has begun commercial operation of the new PS20 solar power tower plant located at the Solúcar Platform, near Seville (Spain). Over the course of the testing period, PS20 surpassed the predicted power output, thus further validating the high potential of power tower technology.

PS20 is the world’s second power tower plant in commercial use. PS20 features a number of significant technological improvements with respect to PS10, the first commercial power tower. These enhancements, developed by Abengoa Solar, include a higher-efficiency receiver, various improvements in the control and operational systems, and a better thermal energy storage system. Plant construction was carried out by Abener.

According to Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar, “Generating more power during production testing than the design output is indeed a significant milestone. The technological breakthroughs we have achieved, coupled with our cumulative expertise, have enabled us to take a qualitative leap forward in our power tower technology.”

With a power capacity of 20 megawatts, double that of PS10, the new PS20 solar power plant will produce enough clean energy to supply 10,000 homes, and will avoid the emission of approximately 12,000 tons of CO 2 into the atmosphere that a conventional power plant would have produced.

PS20 consists of a solar field made up of 1,255 mirrored heliostats designed by Abengoa Solar. Each heliostat, with a surface area of 1,291 square feet, reflects the solar radiation it receives onto the receiver, located on the top of a 531 feet-high tower , producing steam which is converted into electricity generation by a turbine.

Abengoa Solar is focused on the development and application of technology for generating electricity using the power of the sun.

Abengoa is a technology company that applies innovative solutions to sustainable development in the infrastructures, environment and energy sectors. It is a public listed company with a market capitalisation of €1,100.11 billion (24/04/2009) and it currently has a presence in more than 70 countries in which it operates with its five business groups: Solar, Bioenergy, Environmental Services, Information Technologies, and Industrial Construction and Engineering (www.abengoa.com).