Solar Energy “Power Towers” for California
We mostly talk about solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. But we can utilize sunlight by using another technology known as concentrating solar technology. In this technology reflective mirrors are used to concentrate light onto a liquid to make steam. This steam then converts energy into electricity with the help of conventional turbines. Deserts are best places to avail this technology. One important aspect is, its air-cooling process conserves water, an important consideration for desert projects. Concentrating solar technology is to be utilized in California which has a directive to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Utility Southern California Edison announced an ambitious plan, which on successful completion, could power 845,000 homes with solar energy. They are collaborating with BrightSource Energy. They are undertaking series of seven projects. SCE (Southern California Edison) is aspiring to purchase up to 1,300 megawatts of electricity from BrightSource Energy’s solar towers that use heat to produce electricity. BrightSource Energy has already erected a ‘power tower’ in Israel’s Negev Desert. In this desert they have installed an assortment of heliostats or moving mirrors to concentrate light onto a tower to make steam. The first project will be completed in 2013. They will produce 100-megawatt of power in Ivanpah, California. This is supposed to light up 65,000 homes by supplying 286,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year.
Though the companies are not disclosing the financial side of the contract but it is one of the biggest solar power contracts in America and a substantiation of solar power technology. This project still needs approval by regulators and financers. Kroizer, the chief operating officer, and president of BrightSource in Israel tells, “It’s the biggest solar energy project ever signed.” This will also create more green jobs in the region.
Towering Sun Stations
BrightSource technique is simple. Still last year they had generated a media sensation by initiating its pilot plant in Israel’s Negev Desert. They have set up thousands of tiny mirrors known as heliostats. These mirrors reflect sunlight from the heliostats onto a boiler atop a tower. This concentrated heat produces steam which is piped to a turbine to generate electricity. But they are not throwing water conserving principles to wind by using concentrating solar technology. On the contrary, this method conserves water by cooling steam back to water. The environmentally friendly closed cycle solution is offering the highest operating efficiencies and lowest costs in the industry.