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SCI/TECH: A New Twist On Solar Energy

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posted on Dec, 2 2004 @ 05:32 PM
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Traditionally, solar energy collection has been dominated by photovoltaic cells. These photovoltaic cells are inefficient, not to mention costly. The technique discussed in the article uses a Stirling engine to convert solar energy to electrical energy. The project is scheduled to be online by 2011. This system offers electricity comparable to todays cost.
 



www.eetimes.com
The last leg of a two-decades-long effort by the U.S. Energy Deaprtment to unleash superefficient solar power by 2011 is homing in on the so-called Stirling engine, which is being used to drive solar generators. DOE test site measurements suggest the setup could bring the cost of solar power on a par with traditional fossil fuels and hydroelectric sources — assuming the project engineers can balance the separate power feeds from farms of thousands of simultaneously online 25-kilowatt Stirling solar dishes.

"The Stirling engine makes solar power so much more efficiently than photovoltaic solar cells can," said Robert Liden, chief administrative officer at Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (Phoenix). "That's because the Stirling solar dish directly converts solar heat into mechanical energy, which turns an ac electrical generator." The bottom line, he said, "is that large farms of Stirling solar dishes — say, 20,000-dish farms — could deliver cheap solar electricity that rivals what we pay for electricity today."

Under a multiyear Energy Department contract that started in 2004, Stirling Energy Systems will supply Sandia National Laboratories with solar dishes for integration into full-fledged power-generation substations capable of direct connections to the existing U.S. power grid. Right now about 20 EEs, including more than a dozen from Stirling Energy Systems, are working full time at Sandia to create the electrical-control systems to manage these sunshine stations.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This is a case where some old technology coupled with some new technolgy produces very positive results. There has been discussions on other board about the Stirling engine. It's hasn't been pratical in use to suit our like style today. I'ts not practical for variable speeds. Please note in the article that a 100 by 100 square mile area could supply all of the energy needs of the entire US. The article failed to mention the 100 by 100 square mile area could be broken up in to much smaller areas. If this technology is mass produced, economies of scale come into play, meaning price per unit would be reduced. We could all one day have our own energy producing units making our contricution.

[edit on 2-12-2004 by Banshee]




posted on Dec, 3 2004 @ 02:38 AM
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It's time to think small. What area would be needed to generate the power requirement for one home ? Spread that around neighbourhoods, roofs and gardens and the area required for the rest (public, city centre etc) is considerably reduced. Each non urban industrial site could do the same etc etc



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