SOLAR ENERGY TECHNOLOGY BREAKTHROUGH!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Desert Solar Power – Future of environmentally clean and sustainable Energy:







Desert Solar Power – Future of environmentally clean and sustainable Energy:


A recent renewed interest in alternative energy technologies has revitalized interest in solar thermal technology, a type of solar power that uses the sun’s heat rather than its light to produce electricity. Although the technology for solar thermal has existed for more than two decades, projects have languished while fossil fuels remained cheap. But solar thermal’s time may now have come — and mirrored arrays of solar thermal power plants, hopefully, will soon bloom in many of the world’s deserts.


Large desert-based power plants concentrate the sun’s energy to produce high-temperature heat for industrial processes or to convert the solar energy into electricity. It is quite interesting to note that, as per the recent reports on Solar Power, the resource calculations show that just seven states in the U.S. Southwest can provide more than 7 million MW of solar generating capacity, i.e., roughly 10 times that of total electricity generating capacity of U.S. today from all sources.

In US, as per report, four more concentrating solar technologies are being developed. Till now, parabolic trough technology (i.e., tracking the sun with rows of mirrors that heat a fluid, which then produces steam to drive a turbine) used to provide the best performance at a minimum cost. With this technology, as per the report, since the mid-1980s nine plants, totaling about 354 MW, were operating reliably in California’s Mojave Desert. Natural gas and other fuels provide supplementary heating when the sun is inadequate, allowing solar power plants to generate electricity whenever it is needed. In addition, in order to extend the operating times of solar power plants new heat-storing technologies are being developed as well.


Realizing the advantages of solar energy and seeing the success of desert solar power installed, several solar power plants are now being planned in the U.S. Southwest. Renewed Governmental supports and rising fossil fuel prices including natural gas, lead to new interest in concentrating solar power among many entrepreneurs. Efficiency of concentrating solar technologies has also been improved substantially, since then. While earlier trough plants needed a 25 percent natural gas-fired backup, the new improved plants will require only about 2 percent backup. As per recent news in US, utilities in states with large solar resources such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico etc., are considering installation of solar dish systems on a larger scale. As per the latest estimation, within the next decade more than 4,000 MW of central solar plants will be installed. It’s quite encouraging!!


Concentrating Solar Technologies -

(a) Parabolic trough technologies track the sun with rows of mirrors that heat a fluid. The fluid then produces steam to drive a turbine.

(b) Central receiver (tower) systems use large mirrors to direct the sun to a central tower, where fluid is heated to produce steam that drives a turbine. Parabolic trough and tower systems can provide large-scale, bulk power with heat storage (in the form of molten salt, or in hybrid systems that derive a small share of their power from natural gas).

(c) Dish systems consist of a reflecting parabolic dish mirror system that concentrates sunlight onto a small area, where a receiver is heated and drives a small thermal engine.

(d) Concentrating photovoltaic systems (CPV) use moving lenses or mirrors to track the sun and focus its light on high-efficiency silicon or multi-junction solar cells; they are potentially a lower-cost approach to utility-scale PV power. Dish and CPV systems are well suited for decentralized generation that is located close to the site of demand, or can be installed in large groups for central station power.


Conclusion – Now also the cost of solar power is quite high. In fact, for solar energy to achieve its potential, plant construction costs will have to be further reduced via technology improvements, economies of scale, and streamlined assembly techniques. Development of economic storage technologies can also lower costs significantly. According to renewable energy department, a solar plant covering 10 square miles of desert has potential to produce as much power as the Hoover Dam of US produces. Thus, desert-based power plants can provide a large share of the nation’s commercial energy needs.

3 comments:

mr jack said...

It is difficult to beat the economic justification for nuclear energy. concentrating on newer generations of nuclear plants reveals spent fuels to be of great value. further research in combustion of other elemental species will one day bring us into an energy realm where the raw materials to create energy is insignificant. As our instrumentation changes, we change with it, it is what defines us. We should continue to explore all venues

Amber said...

solar energy is a great source for creating a electricity. so we reduce the nuclear energy production. by nuclear radiation we face many heart disease, cancer, Heart Transplantation surgery and other health issues will be decrease. also we get green energy and also we improve our earth's environment too.

john said...

The question is, how long will our desert be deserted. Our population is growing and soon enough, we will need more space to live in at. I think that a good environmental management training can help us all make sure that our day to day living and operations for different businesses and companies are sustainable.