Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Solar Reality


As we continue to hurdle towards World War III, so that we can control the Persian Gulf, so that we can burn more oil, and ultimately set the entire biosphere of the earth on fire, some of us are working everyday to get large amounts of solar and wind energy on the ground, and in the air, and in the energy mix right now. Others are working equally hard to keep more coal plants, more nuclear plants, and more car city investments from being made.

If you see the 11th Hour, which I did last night, you will likely come to the conclusion that moving boldly forward, on a real wartime basis, against the real enemy (ourselves) is the only course that any of us should be pursuing at this moment in history.

To that end, here is some good news for affordable solar energy today.

Ausra secures Series A funding to build and operate utility-scale solar thermal electric power plants

Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers back technology and utility veterans in making renewable energy price competitive with fossil fuels.

DAVIS, Calif.—Sept. 10, 2007—Ausra Inc., the developer of utility-scale solar thermal power technology, has secured more than $40 million in funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firms Khosla Ventures and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (KPCB). The company has assembled a world-class team of solar power scientists, power project developers and financiers to make reliable, large-scale solar thermal power a reality today for electric utilities.

"Worldwide, the electric power industry creates 40 percent of total carbon emissions, and electricity use is rapidly growing. Ausra's technology serves a critical need for utilities seeking large-scale affordable sources of clean power to meet the dual challenges of economic growth and carbon constraints," said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures and Ausra investor and board member. "Ausra's technology replaces smoke with mirrors by eliminating fuel use for power generation, and sets a new benchmark for the cost and scale of solar power."

Ausra's power plants drive steam turbines with sunshine. Locally manufactured solar concentrators made of steel and glass focus sunlight to boil water, generating high-pressure steam that drives conventional turbine generators. New thermal energy storage systems using pressurized water and low cost materials will provide for on-demand generation day and night.

Ausra's core technology, the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar steam generation system, was originally conceived in the early 1990s by founder David Mills while at Sydney University. Mills later worked with Graham Morrison to develop the idea between 1995 and 2001.

Ausra aims to expedite the utility industry's transition to clean energy, helping utilities meet renewable portfolio standards while keeping rates low and the power on for consumers day and night. "Economic development around the world, coupled with recognition that carbon emissions must rapidly be eliminated, has created an enormous market opportunity for companies that can deliver solar power at large scale and at reasonable cost," says KPCB Partner and Ausra investor and board member Ray Lane.

"Solar thermal power is the main event in renewable energy, and Ausra has the deep expertise and a simple, yet effective, design to fully capitalize on the opportunity to deliver the majority of our future power needs."

The thing I like about this technology is the way it uses materials. The glass is not curved and is therefore easier to make and less expensive. The glass tilts to the correct angle by rolling on its circular mount. This too should eliminate complexity.

If Ausra can deliver "Utility scale power at market prices", then this technology will be deployed by utilities as they begin to shift their generation portfolios to non carbon emitting sources.

Meanwhile, I opened up the paper yesterday to find a big story about T Boone Pickens and his giant wind farm and Warren Buffet and his transmission lines to connect them up.

The right people are finally getting in the right business.

Now, we must stop the criminal right

from committing the wrong of war,

In the face of The Solar Reality.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article regarding the origin of this technology in Australia is quite incorrect. Your account fails to acknowledge the other original founder, Morrison. The technology was jointly developed from the early 1990’s by both Morrison and Mills. Mills developed the optical design of the concentrator while Morrison developed the thermal design of the absorber and system operation. Solar Heat and Power was formed by all three engineers: Morrison, Mills and Le Lièvre in 2002.

12:04 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

Thanks for the info, most of this came straight from Ausra with my comments attached to the end..

4:55 PM  

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