Monday, October 15, 2007

Concentrated Solar Power could power Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Harnessing the sun's energy on just 6,000km2 of desert in North Africa would supply energy equivalent to the entire oil production of the Middle East of nine billion barrels a year, according to the German Aerospace Centre.

It believes that solar thermal power plants could supply 68% of North Africa's as well as all of Europe's electricity by 2050.

One company that agrees is Flabeg, a German manufacturer of parabolic trough mirrors.

Its new mirror can concentrate 92% of the sun's rays onto an absorber tube with a diameter of 70mm or less.

It expects to sell these to CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) stations in Spain and North Africa and is already supplying 210,000 to the 50 megawatt solar thermal power plant, Andasol II, in Spain, the biggest in Europe.

Europe's first commercially operating solar thermal tower plant went into operation in April in Sevilla, Spain, generating 11 MW.

The German Aerospace Center has built an experimental solar thermal tower power plant in Julich, Germany, to be commissioned in 2008.

A European Commission-funded research programme report published in September also argued that CSP is "clean energy that can help the EU to meet its 20% target for renewable energies and its broader energy goals."

CSP technologies could make a "significant contribution to developing a more sustainable energy system" especially in southern Europe and North Africa.

Under FP5 and FP6 (5th and 6th EU Research Framework Programmes), the EU contributed €25 million to research projects to develop CSP technologies.

Solar research will be promoted within the FP7 that runs until 2013 with €50 billion in four main components.

> Report explaining the progress of numerous demonstration projects

4 comments:

Hank Roberts said...

Should

"parabolic through mirrors"

read

"parabolic trough mirrors" here?

That's likely what was intended, from my recollection of the design.
________________________________
Nitpicking, a gesture of respect

David T said...

Yes I did mean trough - will correct - I'm hopeless at proofreading, sorry!

Ben said...

Hi David. I'm confused. These parabolic troughs focus the sun's energy on to a tube, you say, but what does the tube do? convert it into electricity? If so, is it more efficient than just passively receiving the energy on a flat panel and coverting it to electricity?

Low Carbon Kid said...

As with a conventional power station they boil water into steam that drives a turbine that produces electricity. Because the heat is concentrated it reaches extremely high temperatures, and so produces a lot more power than would be the case with an equivalent surface area of photovoltaic panels. This technology works on the sun's heat, not its light, which is what photovoltaic cells use. Therefore it is perfect for desert areas that are located between the tropics.

the many different solar technologies are compared and discussed in this good Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power