In case you missed the news, last Tuesday was a monumental day in the solar power world. A contract was signed between Southern California Edison and Stirling Energy Systems to build the world’s largest solar generation array.
The arrays is so large, it will generate more electricity than all the other solar projects in the U.S. combined.That is not the only thing unique about this installation. It DOES NOT use photovoltaic cells. Instead it uses 37′ parabolic mirrors focused on Sterling engines. Sterling engines work on temperature differential. The heat from the sun warms one side and the other is cool.
To give you an idea how large each collector is, here is one with our anti-environmentalist, oil business controlled President in front of one.
When completed, the array will generate 500MW or roughly enough to power 40,000 homes. It will cover 4,500 acres or about 7 square miles. It will be in the top 3% of all generation systems in the state of California.
Which brings us to the next topic… tradeoffs.
It will be based about 70 miles north of Los Angles which is one of the few places a project of this size is feasible. Commercial solar power is really only viable in the Southwest and you need a mix of high demand in fairly close geographic proximity to enough open area to support a project this size. Yet even with obvious limitations on daylight hours and sun time, this will be the first large scale commercially viable solar project.
I found one more tidbit that made this article noteworthy:
Initially, Stirling would build a one-MW test facility using 40 of the company’s 37-foot-diameter dish assemblies. (Each dish generates 25 kilowatts.)…
That number jumped out at me because 25kW would normally power about 2 homes. (assuming it ran 24hrs) Even with solar’s inherent limitations, it looks like one of these could power a single well constructed, energy efficient home. Of course you need enough room to swing a 37 foot dish that tracks the sun; so maybe it would not be a solution for your average suburban 50 x 100 foot lot but in more rural areas, it might finally be feasible to use solar as your primary power source.
(and the winner of last week’s Tech Tuesday contest announced below)
That boys and girls is a whopping 512K of 18 bit parity memory swiped from a DEC PDP-11. That much landscape today could probably fit a half a terabyte of memory instead of half a meg. Anachronda was the big winner based on his multiple posts.(remember most complete answer won) I emailed the addy he plugged in but got no reply. If he does not email in the next week sometime we’ll find some other way to give away his 50 bucks.