Thursday, August 11, 2005

People of the Sun


Another way to produce electricity without changing the climate or scraping the earth, is through the use of heat engines that run on increased fluxes of light.

Stirling cycle engines have been around for a long time. This story indicates that they may be around for a much longer time to come.

This is a big story about the creation of the World Largest Solar Power Plant.

As the reader who sent this to me said,

Hockey Stick Anyone?

SCE, Stirling plan world's largest solar facility

Southern California Edison will help construct a 4,500-acre solar generating station capable of producing more electricity than all other U.S. solar projects combined, according to terms of an agreement announced today between Edison and Stirling Energy Systems.

The two firms signed a 20-year power purchase agreement, subject to California Public Utilities Commission approval, for development of a 500-megawatt solar project 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles using Stirling's dish technology. The agreement includes an option to expand the project to 850 megawatts.

Initially, Stirling would build a 1-megawatt test facility using 40 of the company's 37-foot-diameter dish assemblies. If successful, a 20,000-dish array of solar panels would be constructed near Victorville, Calif., over a four-year period.

"At a time of rising fossil fuel costs and increased concern about greenhouse gas emissions, the Stirling project would provide enough clean power to serve 278,000 homes for an entire year," said SCE Chairman John Bryson. "Edison is committed to facilitating development of new, environmentally sensitive, renewable energy technologies to meet the growing demand for electricity here and throughout the U.S."

Edison currently delivers 2,588 megawatts of renewable electricity to consumers, mostly via wind turbines. Renewables constitute 18 percent of SCE power in California.

Although Stirling dish technology is well established, the Edison-Stirling project represents its first major application in the commercial electricity generation field. Experimental models of the technology have undergone more than 26,000 hours of successful solar operation, the company said. A six-dish Stirling power project is now operating at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Stirling dish technology converts thermal energy to electricity by focusing the sun's rays on the receiver end of a Stirling engine, which is driven by heated hydrogen gas. The entire energy conversion process takes place within a canister the size of an oil barrel, officials said.

Tests conducted by Edison and Sandia have shown that the Stirling dish technology is almost twice as efficient as other solar technologies."

This is really good news by the way.

California led the way in big Wind.

And now, they are leading the way in a new generation of big Solar.

Hopefully, others will follow.

With other strategies and advancements

that can lead to a post promethean future,

humans will now begin to understand that the energy we need,

Is all around us.

If we concentrated on this on a global scale,

We could avoid something else on a global scale.

War.

It's that simple.

It's that profound.


the illustration is courtesy of Tom Curry

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, this a big story. MS

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what does the hockey stick thing mean?

11:32 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:37 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

It describes a marked ramp up of activity, hence the curve of a hockey stick. It has been used in climate change circles to describe the marked ramp up of temperature.

1:39 PM  
Blogger head lem said...

"Hockey Stick" is some folks' way of referring to exponential growth. If you step back from a graph like y=e^^x it looks like a hockey stick, flat and next to the ground for x<1, and then exploding to the sky for x>>1.

I wish they would call exponential growth by its name rather than coming up with the cutesy "hockey stick" inference. Not everyone "gets it".

Not everybody gets the "singularity" bit either:
http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0134.html?

1:45 PM  

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