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Concentrating Solar Power

Power Towers Store Enough Solar Energy to Run a City

_42877005_mirrors_bbc_203jpg.jpegWe have featured Concentrated Solar Power several times in this space, so it was nice to see that the Science section of the New York Times is finally starting to cover large-scale solar thermal plants used for generating electricity. (An article on SkyStream wind turbines is in the same section!)

The great news about solar thermal “Power Towers” is that they are able to store solar energy, which has always been a problem before. How does a solar “Power Tower” work?

“’You take the energy the sun is putting into the earth that day, store it and capture it, put it into the reservoir, and use it on demand,’ said Terry Murphy, president and chief executive of SolarReserve, a company backed in part by United Technologies, the Hartford conglomerate.

Power plants are typically designed with a heat production system matched to their electric generators. Mr. Murphy sees no reason why his should. His design is for a power tower that can supply 540 megawatts of heat. At the high temperatures it could achieve, that would produce 250 megawatts of electricity, enough to run a fair-size city.” –Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, April 15, 2008

One of the most photogenic examples of a Power Tower is Seville, Spain’s 40-story high tower (shown above in a BBC photograph), operated by Solucar.

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


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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.

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