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Clean Power Ausra, solar Australia, solar thermal

Published on March 27th, 2008 | by Sarah Lozanova

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Solar Thermal Electricity: Can it Replace Coal, Gas, and Oil?

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March 27th, 2008 by  

 
Ausra, solar Australia, solar thermal

One of the most common arguments against large-scale use of renewable energy is that it cannot produce a steady, reliable stream of energy, day and night. Ausra Inc. does not agree. They believe that solar thermal technology can supply over 90% of grid power, while reducing carbon emissions.

 

“The U.S. could nearly eliminate our dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity and transportation, drastically slashing global warming pollution without increasing costs for energy,” said David Mills, chief scientific officer and founder of Ausra.

You may be wondering, how will we have electricity at night or during cloudy weather?

Will we use large banks of batteries or burn candles?

The ability to utilize solar thermal technology after the sun sets is made possible by a storage system that is up to 93% efficient, according to Ausra’s executive vice president John O’Donnell.

High efficiency is achieved because solar thermal plants do not need to convert energy to another form in order to store it and do not rely on battery technology. Flat moving recflectors or parabolic mirrors focus solar energy to generate heat. This heat generates steam that turns turbines, thus generating an electric current.

If you want to generate electricity-at, say, 3 am-heat from the sun can be stored for later use. This gives solar thermal technology the ability to not just produce peak power, but also generate base load electricity.

Peak Power: The First Wave of Solar Thermal Plants

The maximum amount of electricity demand on the power grid occurs during weekday afternoons and evenings in the summer months in most regions of the United States. This is largely caused by air conditioning loads, which gobble up electricity.

Because the electric grid needs to be able to handle these peak loads, capacity is built to specifically handle these loads. Natural gas and oil typically comes to the rescue to produce this electricity. Although these plants are expensive to operate, they are cheaper to construct than most of the alternatives. They are fast to start, producing power in 30 minutes or less. Additional power plants are constructed just to generate electricity for the times when it is needed most.

This causes peak electricity to be more expensive. A kilowatt hour of electricity at 3 pm and 3 am does not come with the same price tag to the utility company.

“Adding solar plants that reliably generate until 10 pm displaces the highest cost alternative power,” said John O’Donnell. “That is the first wave of solar thermal plants. The daily and seasonal variation in grid load in the United States matches solar availability.”

Base Load: Replacing Coal Power

Base load is the minimum amount of electricity demand placed on the power grid over a 24 hour period. Coal and nuclear plants commonly supply this energy. These plants can take hours or even days to heat up to operating temperatures and are run more continuously than peak power plants.

Due largely to the lower cost of fuel, these plants can produce electricity at a lower cost. If a carbon tax is implemented in the future, this will increase the cost of electricity generated from coal.

Generating electricity around the clock with solar thermal technology relies on storage systems that run turbines long after the sun sets. “Ausra has a very active energy storage R & D group and we will be prototyping a couple of systems this year here in the US,” said John O’Donnell.

Solar Energy Storage

This is not a new technology, having been used for plastic manufacturing and petroleum production for a long time. Solar thermal plants have a cost advantage compared to photovoltaic technology because energy can be stored as heat without being converted to another form or relying on batteries.

“My favorite example in comparing energy storage options is on your desktop,” said John O’Donnell. “If you have a laptop computer and a thermos of coffee on your desk, the battery in your laptop and the thermos store about the same amount of energy. One of them costs about $150 and the other one costs maybe $3 to $5. On the wholesale level, storing electric power is at least 100 times more expensive than storing heat.”

The future certainly looks bright for solar thermal technology as concern over climate change increases. Global demand for electricity is growing rapidly, requiring clean solutions.

Sarah Lozanova is a freelance writer that is passionate about the new green economy and is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Energy International Quarterly, ThinkGreen.com, Triple Pundit, Green Business Quarterly, Renewable Energy World, and Green Business Quarterly. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative.

Related Posts:

Solar Thermal Electricity: Can it Replace Coal, Gas, and Oil?

Senate Coalition Introduces Clean Energy Tax Package

Solar Panels and the Quest for $1/Watt

Clean Energy Intro: Solar Businesses

4 Things to Consider Before Going Solar

Photo: Ausra’s facility in New South Wales, Australia. Courtesy Ausra.

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About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.



  • S Rubicon

    How many precious acres of land will be needed to create these solar farms, no matter which technology it is? If environmetalists were angry that Border Patrol wanted to have a dirt path for ATV’s to pursue illegal aliens & drug smugglers, how will they react to hundreds of thousands of acres of land (if not millions of acres) stripped to bare for solar panels to be installed? In addition, there will be many, many gallons of water needed to cool those panels & I doubt we have that much water available.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, to start with most solar panels will likely go on rooftops and over parking lots. It makes sense to install solar as close as possible to where it will be used in order to avoid transmission costs. And spreading panels around over large areas minimizes problems with passing clouds.

      But even is we put all the panels on open land you can see here how much space it would take…

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/uploadedImages/Blogs/Natural_Home_Living/solarareagraphic.jpg

      That little brown rectangle over in the Arizona area is what we would need to cover if we powered all of North America with nothing but solar. Given that solar will probably supply no more than 35% of our total electricity cut it down to about 1/3rd and send Canada and Mexico their share.

      As for washing panels, it generally isn’t done. A test site outside of Tuscon didn’t wash their panels for over two years and when they did performance went up only 1%. Not worth the effort. Or water.

      • S Rubicon

        Not referencing washing panels. Talked about “cooling” the panels since that many to generate a large amount of energy, would generate a great deal of heat.

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  • Milflove

    this english class is soooo gay GO HVACS

  • Martin_gervais999

    you guys are so useless, gluck

    Marty G

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  • P.Nukaiah Chetty

    Sub : Save Electricity by harnessing Direct Sunlight with roof top dish mirrors for lighting rooms

    Though our planet is flooded with vast sunlight yet we are wasting huge quantities of electricity to light our homes, offices and commercial establishments.

    The technology of capturing sunlight and taking into interior of rooms is well known. A dish antenna fixed on roof top can collect concentrated beams of sunlight, bundles of plastic fibers can take this light into interiors.

    If this abundant sunlight is efficiently utilized at an affordable cost, we can save considerable amounts of electricity there by saving our fossil fuels like coal, reduce Green House Gas emissions and save our environment.

    Some hurdles : (1) Harmful UV and Infra Red rays, (2) Tracking dish towards sun, (3) Automatic regulation of lighting in rooms

    What we need :

    (1) A suitable plastic dish mirror antenna of about 1.5 meters diameter constantly tracking towards sun. The tracking can be achieved by suitable pre programmed mechanical device, optical sensors or software program connected to GPS system

    (2) As Infra red and Ultra Violet rays are harmful, they can be filtered at the dish itself. Instead of utilizing the direct rays from the dish they can be reflected on to a smaller inverted plastic auxiliary mirror dish and the energy tapped from the auxiliary dish.

    (3) Bundles of flexible white transparent plastic fibers to collect the concentrated light from auxiliary dish to interiors rooms.

    (4) An automatic regulating mechanism in the rooms to increase or decrease the level of conventional light depending on the intensity of arriving sunlight and also to switch off the sunlight when not desirable.

    (5) All this at an acceptable cost.

    Thanking you,

    P.Nukaiah Chetty

    Retired Scientist of ONGC

    9-19-33, Sunkaravari Street, ANAKAPALLE-530 001, A.P

    Ph: 08924-222422, 222622, email : pnchetty@gmail.com

  • P.Nukaiah Chetty

    Sub : Save Electricity by harnessing Direct Sunlight with roof top dish mirrors for lighting rooms

    Though our planet is flooded with vast sunlight yet we are wasting huge quantities of electricity to light our homes, offices and commercial establishments.

    The technology of capturing sunlight and taking into interior of rooms is well known. A dish antenna fixed on roof top can collect concentrated beams of sunlight, bundles of plastic fibers can take this light into interiors.

    If this abundant sunlight is efficiently utilized at an affordable cost, we can save considerable amounts of electricity there by saving our fossil fuels like coal, reduce Green House Gas emissions and save our environment.

    Some hurdles : (1) Harmful UV and Infra Red rays, (2) Tracking dish towards sun, (3) Automatic regulation of lighting in rooms

    What we need :

    (1) A suitable plastic dish mirror antenna of about 1.5 meters diameter constantly tracking towards sun. The tracking can be achieved by suitable pre programmed mechanical device, optical sensors or software program connected to GPS system

    (2) As Infra red and Ultra Violet rays are harmful, they can be filtered at the dish itself. Instead of utilizing the direct rays from the dish they can be reflected on to a smaller inverted plastic auxiliary mirror dish and the energy tapped from the auxiliary dish.

    (3) Bundles of flexible white transparent plastic fibers to collect the concentrated light from auxiliary dish to interiors rooms.

    (4) An automatic regulating mechanism in the rooms to increase or decrease the level of conventional light depending on the intensity of arriving sunlight and also to switch off the sunlight when not desirable.

    (5) All this at an acceptable cost.

    Thanking you,

    P.Nukaiah Chetty

    Retired Scientist of ONGC

    9-19-33, Sunkaravari Street, ANAKAPALLE-530 001, A.P

    Ph: 08924-222422, 222622, email : pnchetty@gmail.com

  • elputo

    it is all about the gas companies gridiness,they just want to get rich so they use any means necesary to stop alternate fuel investigation,

  • elputo

    it is all about the gas companies gridiness,they just want to get rich so they use any means necesary to stop alternate fuel investigation,

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  • jordan

    yes solar energy can replace oil coal and gas

  • jordan

    yes solar energy can replace oil coal and gas

  • russ

    I checked the Trident Energy Power site – lots of writing and an AOL email address – strange

  • russ

    I checked the Trident Energy Power site – lots of writing and an AOL email address – strange

  • russ

    In the article John O’Donnell compares the battery in a laptop and a cheap thermos.

    When I go to their site I see no mention of storage.

    I am 100% for solar but there are technical problems to overcome (same as for any new tech) and in the case of solar one of those is storage.

    The volume of storage for a ??mW solar power plant is not small – in fact it is staggeringly large and a major problem.

    For now solar is sun time only.

    Neat press releases tooting your own horn and making nonsense comparisons don’t change this.

    Pumping water uphill is fine – providing you have:

    1. The water

    2. A suitable hill

    3. Adequate natural storage at the top of the hill

    That unfortunately eliminates pumped water storage in most locations.

  • russ

    In the article John O’Donnell compares the battery in a laptop and a cheap thermos.

    When I go to their site I see no mention of storage.

    I am 100% for solar but there are technical problems to overcome (same as for any new tech) and in the case of solar one of those is storage.

    The volume of storage for a ??mW solar power plant is not small – in fact it is staggeringly large and a major problem.

    For now solar is sun time only.

    Neat press releases tooting your own horn and making nonsense comparisons don’t change this.

    Pumping water uphill is fine – providing you have:

    1. The water

    2. A suitable hill

    3. Adequate natural storage at the top of the hill

    That unfortunately eliminates pumped water storage in most locations.

  • James

    Why don’t we use the resources being put towards alternate energies and push them towards making fossil fuels more efficient and clean? It is not like we are going to run out of fossil fuels soon.

  • James

    Why don’t we use the resources being put towards alternate energies and push them towards making fossil fuels more efficient and clean? It is not like we are going to run out of fossil fuels soon.

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  • Bob Wallace

    “If you think solar is the answer, go build your system and produce enough energy to eliminate the coal to oil concept. Prove it wrong!”

    Rick, we’re likely to see quite usable electric cars hitting the market in the next 12-24 months.

    Given an annual average mileage of 12,000 miles or ~33 miles per day one would need about 7 kWh per day to power their ride.

    Put some $3 per watt panels in a place where they get 4 hours of sun a day and you would need to make approximately a $5,000 to purchase your fuel for the next 25+ years.

    That’s $200 per year. Or less than $20 a month.

    Try buying coal oil for that kind of money.

    (BTW, panel prices are going to be dropping a lot under $3 a watt over the next few years.)

  • Bob Wallace

    “If you think solar is the answer, go build your system and produce enough energy to eliminate the coal to oil concept. Prove it wrong!”

    Rick, we’re likely to see quite usable electric cars hitting the market in the next 12-24 months.

    Given an annual average mileage of 12,000 miles or ~33 miles per day one would need about 7 kWh per day to power their ride.

    Put some $3 per watt panels in a place where they get 4 hours of sun a day and you would need to make approximately a $5,000 to purchase your fuel for the next 25+ years.

    That’s $200 per year. Or less than $20 a month.

    Try buying coal oil for that kind of money.

    (BTW, panel prices are going to be dropping a lot under $3 a watt over the next few years.)

  • Rick Brueckner

    If you think solar is the answer, go build your system and produce enough energy to eliminate the coal to oil concept. Prove it wrong!

    Don’t just scream and whine about somebody else successfully providing energy to other folks.

    I really doubt you can do it. So until you do that someone has to produce cheaper oil.

    Coal to oil does that. Now.

    Solar does not.

  • Rick Brueckner

    If you think solar is the answer, go build your system and produce enough energy to eliminate the coal to oil concept. Prove it wrong!

    Don’t just scream and whine about somebody else successfully providing energy to other folks.

    I really doubt you can do it. So until you do that someone has to produce cheaper oil.

    Coal to oil does that. Now.

    Solar does not.

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  • http://www.onepv.com OnePV

    Solar panels are the way of the future. In India as well there is a huge potential. Indian government has special plans for providing subsidies. Check out this article: http://www.onepv.com/government_incentives.htm

  • http://www.onepv.com OnePV

    Solar panels are the way of the future. In India as well there is a huge potential. Indian government has special plans for providing subsidies. Check out this article: http://www.onepv.com/government_incentives.htm

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  • kenneth rodgers

    I can see how it might help with electricity but I fail to see how it would help with transportation. Also, why do I have no trouble seeing people saying that A: it’s destroying the environment, or B: it’s an eyesore, and NIMBY.

  • kenneth rodgers

    I can see how it might help with electricity but I fail to see how it would help with transportation. Also, why do I have no trouble seeing people saying that A: it’s destroying the environment, or B: it’s an eyesore, and NIMBY.

  • http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Charles_Shults_Fresnel_Solar_Design James Buskist

    On Earth you get 5 times more energy in solar HEAT for a given area than in ELECTRICITY from photo voltaics. Thermal/electric conversion is also powering a big Stirling Energy project in the Mojave. The burn, scald and steam explosion potential makes thermo-electric generators unlikely for residentail use intil a failsafe unit is proven, so PV pumped solar hot water is the $/BTU play for individuals at $2,500.

    http://earth2tech.com/2008/04/22/11-solar-thermal-companies-powering-up/

  • http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Charles_Shults_Fresnel_Solar_Design James Buskist

    On Earth you get 5 times more energy in solar HEAT for a given area than in ELECTRICITY from photo voltaics. Thermal/electric conversion is also powering a big Stirling Energy project in the Mojave. The burn, scald and steam explosion potential makes thermo-electric generators unlikely for residentail use intil a failsafe unit is proven, so PV pumped solar hot water is the $/BTU play for individuals at $2,500.

    http://earth2tech.com/2008/04/22/11-solar-thermal-companies-powering-up/

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  • Patrick

    Please read and pass this along, there are some very interesting comments under the article…. hmmm…

    Cop-out energy bill now going to the senate:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2008/04/04/senate-coalition-introduces-clean-energy-tax-package

  • Patrick

    Please read and pass this along, there are some very interesting comments under the article…. hmmm…

    Cop-out energy bill now going to the senate:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2008/04/04/senate-coalition-introduces-clean-energy-tax-package

  • Patrick

    Matt,

    The energy costs to create these solar plants are certainly considered. I’m surprised that for someone who seems to think so much you really haven’t arrived at the obvious. How much energy do you think it takes to pump oil, ship it here (from the mid east on the other side of the globe), refine it, and drive it to the pumps? How much energy does it take to mine coal, think of the same process as oil.

    I’m ashamed at you as a human being, HOW DARE YOU hold on to oil and coal like the rest of those greedy thoughtless pigs, and then you come on here and try to nit-pick solar. Of course energy is used in creating the panels, but once they are built you can use the free energy from it to build more of them. In a short time we reach a point where it is a %100 sustainable process.

    You are so terribly shortsighted and obviously either do not understand enough or care enough to embrace what is being said here- this is the most important project this world is facing- it hasn’t yet reach many people’s ears. Trust me, this is better than ANY other alternative. THIS, is the solution. Read up on it more before you post your discouraging posts just like the oil companies do (that is, if you are not a Mr oil himself, if so, u are scum of the earth). Oil and coal have been discouraging solar for over 1/2 a century for their own greed. Don’t believe the nay-saying hype.

    The War on Oil and Coal has arrived – becuase it had to. It is going to take a war to knock these pricks down, I hope the country is ready to fight them, otherwise, it will be here for a long time to come.

  • Patrick

    Matt,

    The energy costs to create these solar plants are certainly considered. I’m surprised that for someone who seems to think so much you really haven’t arrived at the obvious. How much energy do you think it takes to pump oil, ship it here (from the mid east on the other side of the globe), refine it, and drive it to the pumps? How much energy does it take to mine coal, think of the same process as oil.

    I’m ashamed at you as a human being, HOW DARE YOU hold on to oil and coal like the rest of those greedy thoughtless pigs, and then you come on here and try to nit-pick solar. Of course energy is used in creating the panels, but once they are built you can use the free energy from it to build more of them. In a short time we reach a point where it is a %100 sustainable process.

    You are so terribly shortsighted and obviously either do not understand enough or care enough to embrace what is being said here- this is the most important project this world is facing- it hasn’t yet reach many people’s ears. Trust me, this is better than ANY other alternative. THIS, is the solution. Read up on it more before you post your discouraging posts just like the oil companies do (that is, if you are not a Mr oil himself, if so, u are scum of the earth). Oil and coal have been discouraging solar for over 1/2 a century for their own greed. Don’t believe the nay-saying hype.

    The War on Oil and Coal has arrived – becuase it had to. It is going to take a war to knock these pricks down, I hope the country is ready to fight them, otherwise, it will be here for a long time to come.

  • walter

    not mentioned in the article is how the heat is stored for later 3am usage? is it just stored in a giant thermos tank for later electricity steam generation? how much steam do you lose? Does scale mean higher efficiency? Can a homeowner just slap one together and generate electricty?

    how much water is used? water reliance may become another issue.

  • walter

    not mentioned in the article is how the heat is stored for later 3am usage? is it just stored in a giant thermos tank for later electricity steam generation? how much steam do you lose? Does scale mean higher efficiency? Can a homeowner just slap one together and generate electricty?

    how much water is used? water reliance may become another issue.

  • Jeremy

    why do people have a hard time realizing that although the production of these technologies take money, they are an investment. The coal plants didn’t miraculously appear for free either. A solar thermal plant, of which there are many in existence, is an easy to maintain, very cost effective way of producing energy.

    Also did you seriously ask why they can’t apply steam to cars? Ummm they did. Unfortunately no one is really pursuing this in the main stream right now even though the technology today would allow for seamless operation of a steam powered car.

  • Jeremy

    why do people have a hard time realizing that although the production of these technologies take money, they are an investment. The coal plants didn’t miraculously appear for free either. A solar thermal plant, of which there are many in existence, is an easy to maintain, very cost effective way of producing energy.

    Also did you seriously ask why they can’t apply steam to cars? Ummm they did. Unfortunately no one is really pursuing this in the main stream right now even though the technology today would allow for seamless operation of a steam powered car.

  • bubba

    tridentenergypower.com ??????

    looks like just a concept, and your management team ? doesn’t appear to have much experience in the power generation field.

    Have you built anything yet ????????????????

    your website doesn’t have much real detail… looks more like an ambition rather than real technology..

    I’m just saying….

  • bubba

    tridentenergypower.com ??????

    looks like just a concept, and your management team ? doesn’t appear to have much experience in the power generation field.

    Have you built anything yet ????????????????

    your website doesn’t have much real detail… looks more like an ambition rather than real technology..

    I’m just saying….

  • bubba

    the company where I work is supplying materials to build the plants here in the U.S.

    this is a very good technology, and the water is actually recirculated in the process so larger amounts of water are not needed beyond the initial supply.

    all they are doing is focusing the sun on a pipe system that generates heat to turn existing turbines. the costs to build is much lower than convention power plants, massive storage batteries that use heavy metals and whose production pollutes the environment are not used as in photovoltaic systems. costs to erect this type of facility is less than conventional power plants… and the “fuel” is free.

    this technology has a great deal of promise and uses conventional construction methods that don’t rely on exotic materials that make this type of technology cost prohibitive.

    as far as testing the process…it is being used in Austrailia now. so it has been tested. it is just being scaled up to service larger power generation needs.

    I would suggest that you check out their website http://www.ausra.com for more info.

  • bubba

    the company where I work is supplying materials to build the plants here in the U.S.

    this is a very good technology, and the water is actually recirculated in the process so larger amounts of water are not needed beyond the initial supply.

    all they are doing is focusing the sun on a pipe system that generates heat to turn existing turbines. the costs to build is much lower than convention power plants, massive storage batteries that use heavy metals and whose production pollutes the environment are not used as in photovoltaic systems. costs to erect this type of facility is less than conventional power plants… and the “fuel” is free.

    this technology has a great deal of promise and uses conventional construction methods that don’t rely on exotic materials that make this type of technology cost prohibitive.

    as far as testing the process…it is being used in Austrailia now. so it has been tested. it is just being scaled up to service larger power generation needs.

    I would suggest that you check out their website http://www.ausra.com for more info.

  • http://tridentenergypower.com Gordon L. Head

    The discussion above has allready been worked out and is about to be put into action. The Trident Energy Power Plant is about to began it’s construction phase.

    This power plant was to be a 5,200mw plant with the ability to expand. As of this moment, we are preparing to build the worlds largest power plant using this technology as part of the operating structure.

    If interested, go to tridentenergypower.com

    Gordon

    • Chuck

      963 days later
      where are you in your process??

  • http://tridentenergypower.com Gordon L. Head

    The discussion above has allready been worked out and is about to be put into action. The Trident Energy Power Plant is about to began it’s construction phase.

    This power plant was to be a 5,200mw plant with the ability to expand. As of this moment, we are preparing to build the worlds largest power plant using this technology as part of the operating structure.

    If interested, go to tridentenergypower.com

    Gordon

  • Sarah Lozanova

    In answer to Dave’s question, it seems like part of the beauty of heat storage is that it can actually be stored without having to convert the energy to another form. 6 hours of storage can have an efficiency as high as 93%. Typically, converting energy to another form causes some energy to be lost. Also, because the idea is to have these systems in the desert, water is scarce.

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  • Wm

    Storing the heated element (water, etc) overnight would probably not be too big of a problem. Many of these solar and thermal generating plants use a product called pentane to drive their turbines. Pentane boils at around 86 degrees, so it doesn’t take much heat to flash it into steam to get the turbines running. The pentane is then recaptured. I used to haul this product and it could freak people out. Sometimes when I would have to overnight at a truck stop during the delivery trip, the pentane would begin to boil in the tanker. When it does this, it begins to swirl around inside the tank because it is seeking oxygen. When it does this, the whole truck starts doing the Watucci.

  • Wm

    Storing the heated element (water, etc) overnight would probably not be too big of a problem. Many of these solar and thermal generating plants use a product called pentane to drive their turbines. Pentane boils at around 86 degrees, so it doesn’t take much heat to flash it into steam to get the turbines running. The pentane is then recaptured. I used to haul this product and it could freak people out. Sometimes when I would have to overnight at a truck stop during the delivery trip, the pentane would begin to boil in the tanker. When it does this, it begins to swirl around inside the tank because it is seeking oxygen. When it does this, the whole truck starts doing the Watucci.

  • Dave

    Can the plants combine both a steam turbine to generate energy from rising water with the slow release resovoir systems they use in nordic countries to further extend the energy producing life? Im referring to the “resovoir batteries” in which water is stored at a higher altitude, and slowly dropped back down, driving a turbine like a hydroelectric dam. Since we have the water rising as steam, we can take care of the energy required to raise the resovoir levels.

    The pitfall I see to this idea is the need for large quantities of water, and how quickly the water will cool off before entering the steam tower again. Any ideas/comments?

  • http://www.h2andyou.org Hydrogen Education Foundation

    It’s great to see an enthusiastic discussion about how to improve our energy future. With the cost of gasoline predicted to reach $4.00/gallon by summer and other sources such as coal and natural gas following suit, more and more people are interested in learning about the promise of alternative energy options. Many government and industry leaders believe hydrogen is an important part of the energy mix to help reduce oil consumption and improve our environment. Later this week the NHA Annual Hydrogen Conference and Expo US, March 30 – April 3, is taking place in Sacramento, CA. Please visit hydrogenconference.org to learn more. If you live near or if you’re traveling to Sacramento, we invite you to join us and experience how hydrogen can have a positive impact on our lives. The latest hydrogen technologies from all over the world will be on display, and there will even be opportunities to drive hydrogen vehicles from several leading auto manufacturers – all this is free and open to the public on Monday, March 31 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements from the Hydrogen Expo.

    In addition, the Hydrogen Education Foundation has recently launched a website to help people better understand hydrogen as a fuel. Please visit http://www.h2andyou.org to improve your knowledge about hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

  • http://www.h2andyou.org Hydrogen Education Foundation

    It’s great to see an enthusiastic discussion about how to improve our energy future. With the cost of gasoline predicted to reach $4.00/gallon by summer and other sources such as coal and natural gas following suit, more and more people are interested in learning about the promise of alternative energy options. Many government and industry leaders believe hydrogen is an important part of the energy mix to help reduce oil consumption and improve our environment. Later this week the NHA Annual Hydrogen Conference and Expo US, March 30 – April 3, is taking place in Sacramento, CA. Please visit hydrogenconference.org to learn more. If you live near or if you’re traveling to Sacramento, we invite you to join us and experience how hydrogen can have a positive impact on our lives. The latest hydrogen technologies from all over the world will be on display, and there will even be opportunities to drive hydrogen vehicles from several leading auto manufacturers – all this is free and open to the public on Monday, March 31 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements from the Hydrogen Expo.

    In addition, the Hydrogen Education Foundation has recently launched a website to help people better understand hydrogen as a fuel. Please visit http://www.h2andyou.org to improve your knowledge about hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

  • Dave

    Great article! Solar Thermal electricity can play a big role in providing for our energy needs if we continue to develop it. But to reduce our dependence on foreign oil especially for our transportation needs we’re going to need to increase our capacity by magnitudes to utilize some type of replacement like fuel cell technology.

  • Dave

    Great article! Solar Thermal electricity can play a big role in providing for our energy needs if we continue to develop it. But to reduce our dependence on foreign oil especially for our transportation needs we’re going to need to increase our capacity by magnitudes to utilize some type of replacement like fuel cell technology.

  • http://www.practice-questions.com CFA Level 1

    What would be nice if they could find a way for vehicles to store and be powered by solar energy and or steam.

  • http://www.practice-questions.com CFA Level 1

    What would be nice if they could find a way for vehicles to store and be powered by solar energy and or steam.

  • http://www.ecoinsomniac.com/ Jason

    Great article I hope it does surpass coal and other dirty forms of power. I think large scale projects like google and other huge companies using technology like this will drastically lower the prices giving us the ability to afford it ourselves.

  • http://www.ecoinsomniac.com/ Jason

    Great article I hope it does surpass coal and other dirty forms of power. I think large scale projects like google and other huge companies using technology like this will drastically lower the prices giving us the ability to afford it ourselves.

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  • Paul

    Until it exists in product, this is nothing more than the 100s of vapourware that comes to light each year. Build it first, then come back to us.

  • Paul

    Until it exists in product, this is nothing more than the 100s of vapourware that comes to light each year. Build it first, then come back to us.

  • Matt

    Why doesn’t anyone ever consider the amount of energy required to produce all these new ways of making electricity? The amount of embodied energy in almost all forms of renewable energy is so large compared to the amount of energy they create that it may be years before you have actually saved energy, if ever, due to the fact that these materials have a limited

    Before we declare solar thermal energy the successor to fossil fuels, and start building endless square miles of these plants, it would be much wiser to comprehensively test the solar thermal process.

  • http://www.fileprompt.com Filepromptdotcom

    will the oil companies allow this? im sure governments will never give any subsidies to this, leaving it to always be a minority supply

    http://www.fileprompt.com

  • Matt

    Why doesn’t anyone ever consider the amount of energy required to produce all these new ways of making electricity? The amount of embodied energy in almost all forms of renewable energy is so large compared to the amount of energy they create that it may be years before you have actually saved energy, if ever, due to the fact that these materials have a limited

    Before we declare solar thermal energy the successor to fossil fuels, and start building endless square miles of these plants, it would be much wiser to comprehensively test the solar thermal process.

  • http://www.fileprompt.com Filepromptdotcom

    will the oil companies allow this? im sure governments will never give any subsidies to this, leaving it to always be a minority supply

    http://www.fileprompt.com

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