The states of Texas, California and Arizona are poised to see an increase in the amount of electricity produced by solar thermal power plants. This is in light of an announcement from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that many additional solar thermal plants will shortly begin operation.
The Abengoa Solar and the BrightSource Energy power plants located in Arizona and California respectively, are the two largest power plants that will commenced operation last month. Both power plants are expected to generate a total of 642 megawatts of residential electricity which has the potential of powering 200,000 homes.
When compared to photovoltaic generators, solar thermal plants are quite expensive, costing as much as $2.2 million. This project will however be funded by loans from the U.S Department of Energy. The power plants will assist in fulfilling the Climate Action Plan objective set by the Obama administration to combat climate change through the means of clean energy.
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Did you know that the amount of solar energy that strikes the Earth in just one hour is enough to power all of the human enterprises for an entire year? It’s true, and there are people who believe that solar energy can take care of everyone’s needs.
However, there are people who want to be a little more conservative when dreaming about how big the impact of solar power will be. Because the largest conversion percentage for a photoelectric power cell is 33.7%, people are concerned that only that percentage of the solar energy hitting the Earth can be used.
The German architect André Broessel has come up with a ball lens that he believes can convert electricity from solar power at a rate of around 50%. His “ball lens” has photo cells underneath the orb. The orb essentially compacts energy into a tight beam and focuses that energy onto the photo cells. This system even works when the skies are not clear.
While his system is not far-fetched, it will be difficult to get companies to retrofit their existing solar systems. However, this ball lens could be efficient up to a rate of 70% if it could be put into use.
Improving the efficiency of solar energy production has been on the lips of everyone who works at or attends Saint David’s Episcopal Church. The church has a large facility that takes up a city block. The church even has a parking garage that gets a great deal of direct sunlight. However, the sunlight that the church gets is actually too much to use.
Therefore, the church went about changing the goals of their project. Systems are actually designed to produce power, but that power is lost if it is not used immediately. In fact, the system cannot send power back into the power grid. When power is sent back into the whole power grid, the solar system trips and shuts off.
Together with Meridian Power, the church is working on a project to reduce their solar capacity so that the church only produces what it needs. This new approach to solar power could change how people view solar power and how solar power panels are installed in the future.
The problem of storing the energy produced by solar power panels has been something that General Compression, a Boston-based company, has been working on. While many people may have installed solar power panels, there are surpluses of energy that could be “banked” for use by the homeowner or by their neighbors.
What General Compression hopes to do is have a storage facility for excess solar energy so that customers do not have to have storage at their home. This also allows for customers to draw from the bank when they need and not because of an overage of power they have stored on their property.
While the rules and regulations of the energy markets will have to be changed to allow for a storage facility of this type, people who have shortages of power can take energy from the bank when they need. People who have overages will be able to wait to take out energy, and everyone benefits from mutually-produced power in the end.