Video: Spain's Stunning Solar Towers Video: Spain's Solar Thermal Towers Video: Spain's Stunning Solar Towers Video: Spain's Solar Thermal Towers
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Video: Spain's Stunning Solar Towers Video: Spain's Solar Thermal Towers

by Ben Jervey

February 13, 2011

Concentrated solar power—aka solar thermal, aka the "other solar"—will be a core element of the transition from dirty coal to clean energy. The advantage of coal plants is that they produce a steady, predictable amount of electricity for a relatively cheap cost. Concentrated solar has the potential to do that. A while back, I devoted a post to the basics of the technology. In that piece, I highlighted a CSP plant near Seville, Spain, that, at the time, was the world's largest:

Today's CSP projects aim to generate power on an industrial scale, creating a baseload electricity supply that could potentially replace large, centralized fossil fuel-burning plants. Just this week, the world's largest (but not for long) CSP operation plugged in-the PS20 plant in Seville, Spain trains 1,255 mirrors on a 531-foot tall water-filled tower. The intense heat boils the water, which creates steam. The steam spins a turbine, and-voila!-electricity is generated. Under optimum conditions, the plant can churn out 20 megawatts of juice, enough to power 10,000 homes.

The Guardian just posted a great video about that plant's predecessor, the PS10, which was the world's first commercial CSP project. It's a smart look at the future of large-scale carbon-free energy production, and digs into some of the economic challenges as well.

 

If you're interested in better understanding what the future of America's big, centralized, baseload electricity sources will look like, watch that video. And check out that old GOOD post too.

Photo (cc) by afloresm on Flickr

Ben Jervey More Info

Ben is a writer and editor covering climate change, energy, and environment, and is currently the Climate and Energy Media Fellow at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor at GOOD Magazine and his work has appeared regularly in National Geographic News, Grist, DeSmogBlog, and OnEarth. He recently worked with the non-profit Focus the Nation to publish an Energy 101 primer. When living in New York City, he wrote a book, The Big Green Apple, on how to live a lower impact life in the city. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.
Some recent articles by Ben Jervey:
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Video: Spain's Stunning Solar Towers Video: Spain's Solar Thermal Towers