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Solar Thermal Possiblities Abound March 9, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Science & Technology.
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Solar Company Says Its Tech Can Power 90 Percent of Grid and Cars | Wired Science from Wired.com
Solar-thermal power is gaining adherents, including Google.org, which cut a deal with another player, eSolar, as a way to cleanly generate cost-competitive, city-scale amounts of power. Unlike traditional photovoltaics, which use panels to convert sunlight into electricity, solar-thermal plants focus the sun’s rays on liquids to make steam that powers turbines. Solar-thermal is flat-out more efficient — at 20 to 40 percent — than photovoltaics, which in the field convert sunlight to electricity at about 15 to 22 percent. And solar-thermal fits into the industrial model of power production, meaning that it works in big plants, not distributed across a bunch of houses and buildings.

new research (.pdf) was presented at the IEA SolarPACES conference in Las Vegas, and is described as peer-reviewed. The paper says Ausra expects to commercialize its energy-storage technology within two years. A prototype of the system will go into a model plant the company plans to finish this summer in Bakersfield, California, the company’s founder, David Mills, told Wired.com.

Companies have been piling into the solar-concentrating space. Stirling Energy Systems, SkyFuel, Solel, BrightSource, Rocketdyne, Abengoa and the aforementioned eSolar are all working on using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy in one way or another.

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