Monday, November 13, 2006

Solar Power Discombobulator

Fellow Progressive Blogger Murky View points out that commercial Solar Power available for home use is now becoming popular; Solar Industry takes LCD cues

And I had blogged about Canadian Tire providing both Solar and Wind generators for the home.

Now it turns out large scale commercial solar power is becoming cheaper, thanks to one of them science fiction devices a solar power concentrator, or as this guy would call it a discombobulator.

Cheap, Superefficient Solar

Solar-power modules that concentrate the power of the sun are becoming more viable.

The thinking behind concentrated solar power is simple. Because energy from the sun, although abundant, is diffuse, generating one gigawatt of power (the size of a typical utility-scale plant) using traditional photovoltaics requires a four-square-mile area of silicon, says Jerry Olson, a research scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, CO. A concentrator system, he says, would replace most of the silicon with plastic or glass lenses or metal reflectors, requiring only as much semiconductor material as it would take to cover an area the size of a typical backyard. And because decreasing the amount of semiconductor needed makes it affordable to use much more efficient types of solar cells, the total footprint of the plant, including the reflectors or lenses, would be only two to two-and-a-half square miles. (This approach is distinct from concentrated thermal solar power, which concentrates the heat from the sun to power turbines or sterling engines.)




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