Utility-scale solar is fairly common in the US and in fact, there are more than 4,000 solar installations in the US that are over 1 megawatt (MW) in size (compared to the average residential solar system of 5 kilowatts). These large-scale plants can be owned by the utility or a third-party that utility agrees to purchase the electricity from (similar to a residential net metering agreement).
Of these large installations, the vast majority are composed of PV panels. The Genesis plant, however, is concentrated solar power, or CSP, which accounts for 10% of these large installations. CSP is an innovative take on thermal solar power which has been mired in controversy over the last few years.
A new proposal by US solar and thermal storage technology company SolarReserve would see a 110MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant built near South Australia’s Port Augusta, 200 miles north of the provincial capital of Adelaide. The plant would supply Port Augusta and neighboring cities with reliable solar power and help them to distance themselves from the coal-powered plants that still supply most of the country with electricity.
The Atacama project, named for the arid high Chilean desert where it’s being built, has a total capacity of 210MW and will be offsetting 864 thousand tons of CO2 emissions annually. That’s equivalent to taking approximately 184 thousand average gasoline-powered cars off the roads.
The Sun has always been regarded as a powerful heavenly body, taking the form of deities dating all the way back to times of antiquity. It’s no surprise that today, technology has also evolved to conjure the power of our Solar System’s star in the form of solar power. Although we’ve dispensed of Egyptian legends surrounding Râ, the almighty Sun God, humans are now going beyond the simple basics of photovoltaics that convert electricity into solar power using the photovoltaic effect.
They look less like what you’d imagine a solar tower to look like, and more like a sci-fi portal to another world.
Given the ample sunshine in the south of Spain, it’s no wonder that solar plants are popping up. This past July, solar power contributed to over eight percent of Spain’s electricity. Not only that, but Spain has emerged as a pioneer in solar energy, with this glowing obelisk actually being the world’s first commercial concentrating solar power tower.Continue reading
Considering that billions of dollars are wasted annually disposing of radioisotopes produced by nuclear power plants, the term radioactive waste fits the industry like a glove. As more resources are invested, more waste is produced as urgent issues concerning safety and the environment are pushed to the backburner. In the midst of this unstable situation, however, research continues to grow slowly but surely towards harvesting one of the freest and safest sources of energy available to all: the Sun.
Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and must be conserved at all times, sunlight can turn into electricity with the proper converting mechanism. This isn’t magic. It’s basic physics.Continue reading