Larry’s View

Larry’s view on any and everything.

Solar power plants

Solar power plants are an image that most of us should get used too in a hurry. While they are not all that common now, they are coming. As of this writing 90% of the commercially produced solar energy is produced at just one plant in the Mohave Desert in Southern California. We can expect these numbers to change as the world discussion about climate change heats up along with the planet.

At 354 MW, SEGS (Solar Energy Generating Systems) is the largest operational solar thermal energy system, and the largest solar power system of any kind. It is a trough system which operates by linear parabolic mirrors concentrating sunlight upon a receiver running along the focal line of the collector. Each mirror has a diameter of almost 20 feet concentrating solar energy upon a 4 inch diameter specially-insulated tube filled with oil. There are seven different production units which include four hundred thousand mirrors.

Each mirror heats the oil to close to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. This oil circulates through a heat exchange and the last stage is akin to a steam turbine generator. This process is believed to be close too competitive with traditional peak generation as the costs of diesel fuel and natural gas increase. All the indicators show us that traditional energy costs will soon make solar power a hot commodity. As countries tighten up environmental standards it will make solar more inexpensive compared to traditional fuels. There are currently plans for solar plants in southern California that will dwarf all others currently in existence. As a matter of fact it will be larger than all the solar plants in the US combined. These plants will use an external heat engine and specially designed curved dishes to maximize the production. There is already a deal for California utilities to purchase the energy produced for twenty years. The beauty of this plant is the extremely low maintenance costs. There will be low manpower needs and the engine requires only a little water. It is an exciting time for solar power enthusiasts as oil and other traditional fuels are slowly becoming more expensive and will soon surpass solar. This is the day they knew was coming and those who made the investment in solar energy or solar power plants will see the pay off.

It is an exciting time for solar and those who predicted the need for solar before it was popular will be proven correct.

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February 18, 2008 - Posted by | Blogroll, Solar Power

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