Wednesday, February 08, 2006

New and Large Solar Thermal Plant...A Flavour of The Future?

An interesting development in solar thermal power is the 'Nevada Solar One' power plant. This powerplant is going to have a capacity of 64MW. Another interesting development is the inclusion of extremely hot liquid salt resevoirs that can maintain the output of the plant during brief cloudy periods. These reserves along with the inherent thermal capacity of the heat transfer liquid give the system a fair degree of inertia. The slower the fluctuations the better the qaulity of the power. This plant is 64MW , but the scale of such structures is not limited by many factors other than suitable locations and the ambitions of the power company. The developers of 'Nevada Solar One' claim that the ideal size is arround 200MW, being limited prusumably by the distance the heat transfer liquid has to move in order to get back to the steam turbine it has to drive.It is interesting that this sort of plant is again recieving attention, in the US and in Europe.Renewables as a whole are moving rapidly towards the mainstream. Wind is arguably already compeative purely on economic grounds. Wave and Tidal have been reported to have great potential, perhaps on a similar level to wind power. We are going to need a diversity of these alternative sources of power if we are going to really adress climate change on the requsite scale. The map below shows where in the world solar thermal can be effectively applied. This is quite a different map to the equivalent for wind power or for tidal/wave power.

For more information about the state of various renewable technologies take a look at a previous article here.

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At 3:18 AM, Anonymous David said...


Unfortunately the areas shown as good or excellent don't seem to be very close to major population areas, except maybe parts of the middle east, a little bit of South America and - notably - western USA, which has a big patch of 'excellent' potential right where some of its largest populations are. The US should definitely be considering this as an important part of their energy mix.


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