The largest solar tower in the world tested successfully!

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Abengoa Solar of Spain on Monday reported successful tests of its second solar tower in operation, in which the sun’s heat is used to make electricity.

The 531-foot solar tower, located near Seville, Spain, features a number of improvements on the first design and has exceeded the anticipated output. Called PS20, the installation is the largest in the world with a capacity of 20 megawatts, enough electricity to supply 10,000 homes, according to the company, and will avoid the emission of approximately 12,000 tons of CO 2 into the atmosphere that a conventional power plant would have produced.

A solar tower configuration uses a field of heliostats, or mirrors, to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver held in the tower. The heat creates steam which turns a turbine to make electricity. The PS20 project has 1,255 of these heliostats, with each heliostat having a surface area of 1,291 square feet.

Concentrating solar thermal technology has been used in desert areas in Spain and the southwest U.S. for decades and is seeing a resurgence as utilities seek out cost-effective solar power.

The traditional solar concentrating power uses rows of mirrored troughs that follow the sun over the course of the day.

Solar tower technology is considered the successor technology to mirrored troughs and is being pursued by a number of solar companies, including renewable energy powerhouse Abengoa and California start-ups Bright Source Energy and eSolar.

Abengoa Solar said that this installation improved on the first solar tower in Spain with better control systems and solar thermal energy storage system. (Article by Martin La Monica, from CNet News, 28th April 2009 )

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Now maybe this is something that our electricity provider Eskom should explore? The technology is available, and perhaps there are investors willing to support a project like this in South Africa. According to WWF, South Africa has 27% of the world’s best sunshine. Peter Lukey, from DEAT (Chief Directorate: Air Quality Management & Climate Change) points out that solar has the potential to generate 8.5 million petajoules per year in South Africa. In fact our total coal reserve is only 15% of the annual solar potential that we have! With our apparent solar and wind energy generation capacity, it would appear that this is indeed an option for South Africa’s energy mix. Get with Eskom!

A sobering article from the COP 15 web site reminds us of the 10 Big Energy Myths.

Cut Carbon. Dare to Change!

Alistar

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