Solar Thermal Kicking PV's Arse
California’s Mojave desert sure is getting crowded as more and more companies are raising money in an effort to build large solar power plants to harness the sun’s heat. Yesterday, eSolar said it had raised a massive $130 million from the likes of Google and Idealab for its small-scale solar thermal designs, while Stirling also said it had raised $100M from Irish renewable energy developer NTR for its SunCatcher solar thermal dishes. And this morning Infinia, which makes Stirling engines for solar thermal, said it had raised $57 million in a second round of funding. __Read more at earth2techfor information about 11 solar thermal companieseSolar has been quite successful in raising funding, and has developed a modular design to match the power plant to the available land and required power loads.
Based on eSolar’s 33 MW pre-fab form-factor, the company’s modular design translates to minimal land requirements and are tailored to fit local resources and produce a low environmental footprint, favoring a straightforward sitting and permitting process. Various locations with multitude interconnection options mean that eSolar can deliver more clean, carbon free power where it is needed; close to the cities and towns where it is consumed.The rush is on to cash in on abundant solar energy in the desert regions of the US, in Spain, and soon the Persian Gulf countries. Solar thermal plants range from the 25 MW eSolar module up to 500 the MW installation being installed by Stirling Energy Systems, which can be expandable to over 850 MW eventually.
“The eSolar power plant is based on mass manufactured components, and designed for rapid construction, uniform modularity, and unlimited scalability,” said Asif Ansari, CEO of eSolar. “Rather than over-engineering the solution, eSolar’s smart scalable solar architecture targets what we see as the four key business obstacles facing the sector: price, scalability, rapid deployment, and grid impact.”
eSolar’s approach to power plant design revolves around a tiered delivery model, beginning with a 25 MW base unit, called a module, consisting of several thermal receiver towers, each with a field of heliostats. These modules are replicated as many times as necessary to fit specific power requirements. ___ImpactLab
Someday, PV will be ready to compete with solar thermal. But that day will not appear within the next 15 or 20 years.
And if you need a lot of baseload energy--in the multi-GW range--nuclear is still your best bet for large scale baseload energy, other than coal.
The US is unfortunate in having what appears to be an incompetent US Congress at this time, on energy matters. The current US Congress seems determined to choke US energy sources and to create a large scale economic crisis in the US economy. I say the Congress "seems determined" to do this. If there is a better explanation for the extreme incompetence of the US Congress on energy matters, I am open to hearing it. Perhaps the Congress is simply stupid. That is possible. I prefer stupid over criminal.