Solar power news and happenings

by Solarexpert on January 3, 2010

Here’s an interesting article on how power plants need lots of water for cooling and power generation (steam to turn the turbines) – “Water Scarcity = Energy Challenges.” By the logic of this article places that would seem to be ideal for the placement of Solar Power Plants, places like the Arizona, Nevada and California deserts, are in fact bad locations because those locations have very little water.  What the article fails to mention is that solar power plants based on photovoltaic power panels have very little water requirements.  Aside from that, thermal solar power plants – solar power generation based on “Concentrated Solar Power” type systems, can use molten salt for the primarily heating fluid and a closed-loop steam system to turn the power generating turbines.  While this doesn’t eliminate the need for water it drastically reduces it, thereby making a better case for building large scale solar power plants in these regions.

Concentrated Solar Power Mirrors focus the sun's energy

Proposed Australian 200MW Solar Tower – Building on my argument above, here is a proposed Concentrated Solar project taking place in Australia that uses no water in the energy generating process.  Interesting stuff.

The struggle between the solar power industry and environmentalists is ongoing in the California desert as highlighted by this article on California Solar Power. This issue is gaining a lot of press because it highlights the obstacles and difficulties involved in rapidly deploying large scale solar power plants in a timely manner.  I don’t know enough about the topography of the area or the details about the costs or feasibility of moving the plant to offer an educated opinion, but this does highlight the difficulty of getting anything done quickly and cheaply when you need to deal with the bureaucratic morass that is California politics.  It seems like a clear delineation of priorities and a streamlined process is called for here.  I have dealt with the issue of installing a distributed solar power generating system in an earlier blog post.  While the power plant in question here is a Solar Thermal Power Plant that doesn’t lend itself to relocation to an urban area the same principles apply…the obstacles are political.

Concentrated Solar Power – Here’s a quick and simple video on how Solar electric power is generated using concentrated Solar Power.

Photo Credit – / CC BY-SA 2.0

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