Game-Changing Solar Invention. Cheap to produce and up to 28% efficiency posible


“Game-Changing” Solar Invention Announced (via Clean Technica)

I have seen my share of outstanding solar innovations, such as concentrated solar setups using tiny gallium arsenide cells that achieve an astounding 42% efficiency. However, I’ve been eagerly waiting for an outstanding innovation made from more abundant materials such as silicon. The main reason…

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Gemasolar, near Seville, Spain – the first Concentrated Solar Thermal Power plus molten salt storage (CSP+) plant to produce energy 24 hours per day. This power tower plant produces 20MW, enough to power 25,000 homes but much bigger CSP+ plants are now being in the Middle East and the US that will produce 100MW and 150MW. Even larger CSP+ plants are possible.

Crescent Dunes Concentrated Solar Power project


110 MW concentrating solar thermal power tower plant utilizing the advanced molten salt power tower technology with integrated storage.

Crescent Dunes Concentrated Solar Power project
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is a 110 MW plant located near Tonopah, Nevada. Once constructed, it will power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods.

Project Overview

110 MW solar thermal power tower plant utilizing the advanced molten salt power tower technology with integrated storage. 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy to sell 100 percent of the electricity generated by the power plant.

When completed, the facility will supply approximately 500,000 megawatt hours annually of clean, renewable electricity, enough to power 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods.

Bureau of Land Management Record of Decision and Right-of-Way Grants executed December 2010. Closed financing in September 2011, including a $737 million loan from the Department of Energy and private financing from SolarReserve, ACS Cobra and Santander.
Construction began in September 2011.

During construction, the project will employ more than 600 workers on site with a total of more than 4,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs created during the 30-month construction period.

Under the project’s unique development agreement with Nye County, SolarReserve has committed to filling 90 percent of the construction jobs with Nevada residents, utilizing both union and non-union subcontractors.

During operations, the project will expend more than $10 million per year in salaries and operating costs. The concentrated project is expected to be completed in late 2013.

Project Summary

Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC, (TSE) a wholly owned subsidiary of SolarReserve, LLC, will construct, own, and operate the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. The project will be a solar generating facility located northwest of Tonopah, Nevada, in Nye County with a nominal net generating capacity of 110 megawatts (MW). When completed, Tonopah Solar Energy’s facility will supply approximately 500,000 megawatt hours annually of clean, renewable electricity – enough to power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity periods utilizing its innovative energy storage capabilities.

The Cresent Dunes Solar Energy Project will utilize concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, with a central receiver tower and the advanced molten salt system technology developed by Pratt Whitney & Rocketdyne. The project will help meet the increasing demand for clean, renewable electrical energy in the U.S. and help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
Key Project Benefits:

Advances U.S. clean energy technology with the most advanced energy storage project providing clean energy, day or night. The energy storage inherent in the technology provides a stable and flexible electricity product to better meet Nevada’s peak demand profile and improve grid stability.

Helps meet growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources. Will significantly reduce the use of water for cooling by using an efficient, low-water hybrid cooling system.

Job Creation

SolarReserve’s construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project will create approximately 4,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs, including more than 600 construction jobs during a 30-month period. The project will also bring additional tax revenues as well as secondary/induced economic activity to the region. During operations, the project will expend more than $10 million per year in salaries and operating costs, and is forecasted to generate $47 million in total tax revenues through the first 10 years of operation. In addition, the Crescent Dunes Project Development Agreement requires that 90 percent of the project’s construction workforce will be Nevada residents.

Development and construction 600 jobs skilled and semi-skilled labor, 90% Nevada residents Operations phase 45 full-time, permanent jobs.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne 120 to 130 engineering/technical positions retained. SolarReserve 35 management and engineering jobs. Indirectly induced1 4,300 indirectly induced jobs in the supply chain including manufacturing, value-added services and transport of the equipment.

Domestic Economic Impacts

Tax Revenues: Project forecasted to generate $37 million in total tax revenues over the first ten years of operation. Capital Investment: Project will generate in excess of $750 million private capital cost investment in Nevada. Reliable, Non-Variable Power Generation

Not only is the sun an unlimited fuel source, but it also provides the cleanest form of energy available at any scale. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project utilizes energy storage, which provides operating stability for the electricity grid and a cost-effective way to meet Nevada’s peak electricity demand profile.

Clean and Secure Domestic Energy

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project will reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil energy supplies, producing enough solar energy in one year equivalent to about one-fourth of the total output of Hoover Dam. The project uses a hybrid cooling power system so that water use is at a strict minimum in this important desert ecosystem. Solar-only energy avoids greenhouse gas emissions produced by a mid-sized fossil-fueled power plant.


First concentrated solar power plant in the world of variable geometry


At the end of 2011, Spain had 26 operational concentrating solar thermal power plants with a total installed capacity of 1,100 MW.

The President of CTAER, Valeriano Ruiz Hernández, yesterday signed an agreement through which Abengoa has been awarded the contract for the “Experimental Variable Geometry Solar Facility for Central Receiver Systems”.

Following an open public tender, Abengoa, a pioneering world leader in the industrial application of thermoelectric solar technologies for central tower receivers, has been chosen for this first experimental test facility that CTAER (the advanced renewable energy technology centre) is constructing for use in research and which will be made available to companies in this sector around the world.

Why is it innovative?

The variable geometry plant is a patent held by the CTAER, which is launching a new generation of central receiver tower technology based on mobile heliostats and a mobile receiver that can track the apparent movement of the sun. This will significantly increase the cosine factor of the field of heliostats, capturing the maximum amount of potential energy at any time of year. The simulation programs applied to these variable geometry systems obtain an overall performance improvement of the plants of around 17% per annum.

The new experimental facility, which will be located in Tabernas (Almería) on land adjoining the Almería Solar Platform, has a budget of €4,700,000, financed by the Regional Ministry of Innovation, Science and Enterprise through IDEA, the innovation and development agency of Andalusia, thanks to an agreement with the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The works are due to be completed within 16 months, starting from the award date.

Milestone in the development of thermoelectric solar technology

Spain’s position as a pioneer in thermoelectric solar energy is essentially due to the research carried out over decades at the test plants in the Tabernas desert (the Almería Solar Platform) and the contribution of its universities, especially those in Andalusia, which have provided engineers and other high level specialists. However, this internationally growing industry needs to continue advancing based on more efficient and profitable technologies.

CTAER, in collaboration with the Almería Solar Platform, is working to continue and build on this research and training work carried out over decades, both in solar energy and other renewable energies that are so important for Andalusia, such as biomass and those related to wind and the sea.

This experimental facility, which is unique in the world, will enable new plant concepts to be tested that could be implemented by the solar-thermal industry in the coming years. This sector is going through an international expansion phase and is being hailed as a potential solution to the energy needs of a large part of the world, using the sun – a clean, abundant and inexhaustible source of energy.

Spain’s leadership in concentrated solar-thermal energy

At the end of 2011, Spain had 26 operational concentrating solar thermal power plants with a total installed capacity of 1,100 MW. Furthermore, some 62% of this capacity includes storage in the form of thermal energy, which means that these plants can supply electricity to the network even at night time. In addition to this, there is also the possibility of creating hybrid structures with biomass or other types of fuel, which multiplies the potential, manageability and predictability of solar-thermal energy.

Spain’s global leadership in solar-thermal energy is not just quantitative, but qualitative as well, thanks to its technological innovation and R&D+i, two important aspects highlighted by the President of CTAER, “Our country has tower plants that are unique in the world, such as the PS10 and PS20 that use saturated steam”. Both form part of the Solúcar Platform in Sanlúcar La Mayor, Seville, the largest solar platform in Europe. According to Valeriano Ruiz, Spain’s dominance of solar-thermal technology gives it a privileged position to operate in a market with multi-billion Dollar prospects in the short, medium and long term, since renewable energy is currently worth $211 billion annually around the world.

According to a study by Deloitte, the concentrated solar thermal energy industry in Spain contributed €723 million, €1.182 billion and €1.650 billion to the country’s GDP in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.


Solar Power Much Cheaper to Produce Than Most Analysts Realize, Study Finds


11mw-serpa-powerplant.jpgScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2011) — The public is being kept in the dark about the viability of solar photovoltaic energy, according to a study conducted at Queen’s University.

“Many analysts project a higher cost for solar photovoltaic energy because they don’t consider recent technological advancements and price reductions,” says Joshua Pearce, Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Older models for determining solar photovoltaic energy costs are too conservative.”

Dr. Pearce believes solar photovoltaic systems are near the “tipping point” where they can produce energy for about the same price other traditional sources of energy.

Analysts look at many variables to determine the cost of solar photovoltaic systems for consumers, including installation and maintenance costs, finance charges, the system’s life expectancy, and the amount of electricity it generates.

Dr. Pearce says some studies don’t consider the 70 per cent reduction in the cost of solar panels since 2009 . Furthermore, he says research now shows the productivity of top-of-the-line solar panels only drops between 0.1 and 0.2 percent annually, which is much less than the one per cent used in many cost analyses.

Equipment costs are determined based on dollars per watt of electricity produced. One 2010 study estimated the this cost at $7.61, while a 2003 study set the amount at $4.16. According to Dr. Pearce, the real cost in 2011 is under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk on the global market, though he says system and installation costs vary widely.

Dr. Pearce has created a calculator program available for download online that can be used to determine the true costs of solar energy.

The Queen’s study was co-authored by grad students Kadra Branker and Michael Pathak and published in the December edition of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.


Energie uit de Sahara


De laatste jaren is het Desertec-scenario sterk in de belangstelling gekomen. Het gaat hierbij om export van verschillende soorten duurzame energiebronnen vanuit onder meer Noord-Afrika of het Midden Oosten. CSP-installaties (concentrated solar power) spelen hierbij een belangrijke rol, maar het plan voorziet ook in de toepassing van windturbines, pv-centrales, aardwarmte-installaties en waterkracht.

Leden van de Duitse afdeling van de Club van Rome, voortrekkers van het plan, hebben nu samen met onder meer wetenschappers van het Duitse Lucht- en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium (DLR) een atlas samengesteld die het Desertec-concept op inzichtelijke wijze uit de doeken doet. Na enkele obligate beschouwingen over het klimaatprobleem komen verschillende interessante aspecten aan bod.

Een van die aspecten is hoe duurzame technieken niet alleen stroom kunnen leveren, maar ook een cruciale functie kunnen vervullen bij het oplossen van een van de belangrijkste problemen in Noord-Afrika: de drinkwatervoorziening. Het waterprobleem is een ‘energieprobleem’, zo luidt een van de stellingen, het uitgangspunt is dat met name CSP-centrales niet alleen duurzame elektriciteit, maar met behulp van de vrijkomende restwarmte via ontzilting ook goed drinkwater zouden kunnen produceren.

Inmiddels lijken de eerste stappen in de uitvoering van Desertec al gezet, niet alleen door de aangekondigde bouw van een CSP pilotinstallatie in Marokko van 500 MW (zie TW46), maar ook door de voortvarende groei van CSP-installaties in met name Spanje.

Der Desertec-atlas;

19,90 euro


Visualisation of Installation of 500,000 German PV Systems


This shows the installation of over 500,000 PV systems across Germany from January 2009 until September 2011. The area of the circles represents the total installed capacity per location. Data is sourced from Visualization by Chris Davis and Alfredas Chmieliauskas. For more of our work, see