Most of us are familiar with the concept behind the wind farm as a means to generate sufficient energy to power the needs of urban environments. Solar power technology has lagged behind in this field, as it was better suited to smaller installations.
Now, however, we are beginning to see new experimental installations and technologies that are striving to break the barrier that has stood between the gathering of solar energy and the supplying of urban power needs. Here are three examples of large-scale technologies that are being pursued.
* Solar Islands
Solar Islands, by Nolaris, Switzerland, has been in the works since 2007. The prototype places thermosolar panels on membranes that provide floating solar islands capable or turning to track the movement of the sun. The sun’s energy is captured and it’s heat used to produce steam within a high-pressure steam tank located at the center of the island. From the steam tank, an underwater pipeline is constructed to move the steam to shore or a tankship. At the endpoint of the pipeline is a steam turbine capable of generating up to 1GW of power. Both on-shore and offshore versions of the Solar Islands are being worked with.
* Solar Tower Energy
Enviro Mission of Australia has been working on the development of a 1,000-meter high solar tower power plant, which will be capable of producing 200MW via the 32 turbines incorporated into the structure. This model works on the concept that heated air rises, drawing the air up through the base of the tower and out through the top. The movement of the air turns the turbines, which in turn generates power. The Enviro Mission Solar Tower Power Plant is scheduled to go into production in 2012.
* Stirling Dish Solar Collector
With a look that puts us in mind of the epic Star Wars series, this dish solar collector by Stirling Energy Systems of Scottsdale, Arizona, appears to have shattered the barrier between solar energy and the mass supply of energy for urban environments.
The SunCatcher, combines the usage of the Stirling engine design, a concept that dates back to 1816, with the capability of mass energy production. Each unit is capable of producing 25KW of clean, renewable energy.
Combined, these three new solar technologies offer hope to the ongoing struggle our planet faces to supply the energy needs of it’s inhabitants in a manner that respects and protects the needs of planet we all depend on.
Energy Old and New continually seeks knowledge and understanding of how our power needs have been met in the past, as well as what we are doing to meet those needs in an earth friendly manner in the future.
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