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Clean Power concentrating solar thermal

Published on July 2nd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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New Study on Material Constraints of Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (Finding: Not a Problem)



 

As you may have noticed in the story on the huge NREL study just published showing that 80% of US electricity could easily come from renewable sources, concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) would play a big part in that. But would such clean technology run into problematic material constraints? A recent study from Swedish researchers examined that. Here’s the study abstract:

“Scaling up alternative energy systems to replace fossil fuels is a critical imperative. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is a promising solar energy technology that is growing steadily in a so far small, but commercial scale. Previous life cycle assessments (LCA) have resulted in confirmation of low environmental impact and high lifetime energy return. This work contributes an assessment of potential material restrictions for a large-scale application of CSP technology using data from an existing parabolic trough plant and one prospective state-of-the-art central tower plant. The material needs for these two CSP designs are calculated, along with the resulting demand for a high adoption (up to about 8000 TWh/yr by 2050) scenario. In general, most of the materials needed for CSP are commonplace. Some CSP material needs could however become significant compared to global production. The need for nitrate salts (NaNO3 and KNO3), silver and steel alloys (Nb, Ni and Mo) in particular would be significant if CSP grows to be a major global electricity supply. The possibilities for increased extraction of these materials or substituting them in CSP design, although at a marginal cost, mean that fears of material restriction are likely unfounded.”

If you didn’t catch that last part, there are no serious concerns regarding long-term mineral constraints of CSP.

Good news, and this is certainly a study to keep on hand for

For more, check out: Material constraints for concentrating solar thermal power.

 

 

Image Credits: CSP plant via Shutterstock and CSP plant via Dii Desert Energy

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Rowan

    I wonder why they only did the calculation for 5% of global energy use? Is that because they presume the rest will continue to come from other sources. Wind can only do <6%. The world's biomass would last 26mins at current consumption rates. Uranium reserves 42 days. Or maybe food is the constraint so we won't need as much?

    • Bob_Wallace

      I have no idea what you’re saying.

      Wind can only do <6%? What does that mean?

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