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Hot Energy Issues May 15, 2007

Posted by Tom in Cities, Environment, future.

Solucar solar thermal power station
Solucar solar thermal power station

I remembered this story today when talking to João and Hugo, a couple of witty students in my BEC Higher course, about my latest project for my technology degree. It was about solar power, more specifically, photovoltaic panels (the solar power panels we see on roofs). I then remembered a story(real player needed) I’d seen on the BBC’s sci-tech website about a new type of solar plant in Spain.
This is solar thermal power and it is truly awe inspiring. Very basically, there is field of very, very large mirrors that shine the rays of the sun onto a tower. There, water is heated by the concentrated rays of the sun (over 400ºC) which is used to create electrical energy. One field creates 11 Megawatts of power, enough for 6000 homes.
There are zero emissions.
Some will say the tower and its light is unsightly. I would say that it is, in fact, beautiful like I think wind power mills are awe inspiring. I am amazed that people still prefer to protect a landscape while breathing noxious air.

Australia's solar tower
Australia’s projected Solar tower
Another , even more amazing project is in Australia where the technology simply takes heat from the sun and directs it up a tower. What makes it potentially more interesting than solar thermal power is that it does not need water (making deserts more feasible for location) and that they can generate more than 200MW. Having said that, the project’s own website includes a warning that deserts need to be protected as they are also necessary to our climate and the earth’s systems.
These new power stations are truly the power of the future… Now to buy property in the sahara :-)



1. seacat - May 16, 2007

Impressive articles on alternative energy–does the power plant in Spain really exist? Or is it a project–not online yet? Cool stuff. Thanks!

2. Tom - May 16, 2007

Thanks for the feedback!
As far as I know the power station is up and running. At least that is what it looks like from BBC’s report. I think they are currently building a second field of mirrors.
Also, I did a little research and found that the Spanish power station is probably based on a project in the Mojave desert. Link Hope this html works in a comment)

3. Tom - May 16, 2007

html worked :-)

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