Overview

To date, the largest power towers ever built are the 10 MW Solar One and Solar Two plants. Assuming success of the Solar Two project, the next plants could be scaled-up to between 30 and 100 MW in size for utility grid connecte d applications in the Southwestern United States and/or international power markets. New peaking and intermediat e power sources are needed today in many areas of the developing world. India, Egypt, and South Africa are location s that appear to be ideally suited for power tower development. As the technology matures, plants with up to a 400 MW rating appear feasible. As non-polluting energy sources become more favored, molten-salt power towers will have a high value because the thermal energy storage allows the plant to be dispatchable. Consequently, the value of powe r is worth more because a power tower plant can deliver energy during peak load times when it is more valuable. Energy storage also allows power tower plants to be designed and built with a range of annual capacity factors (20 to 65%). Combining high capacity factors and the fact that energy storage will allow power to be brought onto the grid in a controlled manner (i.e., by reducing electrical transients thus increasing the stability of the overall utility grid), tota l market penetration should be much higher than an intermittent solar technology without storage.

One possible concern with the technology is the relatively high amount of land and water usage. This may become an important issue from a practical and environmental viewpoint since these plants are typically deployed within deser t areas that often lack water and have fragile landscapes. Water usage at power towers is comparable to other Rankin e cycle power technologies of similar size and annual performance. Land usage, although significant, is typically muc h less than that required for hydro [3] and is generally less than that required for fossil (e.g., oil, coal, natural gas), when the mining and exploration of land are included.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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