Video: Spain's Stunning Solar Towers Video: Spain's Solar Thermal Towers
Watch this video to see the future of large-scale, carbon-free electricity production.
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