Monday, August 19, 2013

Low Cost Solar Thermal Power Plants: Sunny Future?

With increasing concerns over the deleterious effect of excess industrial activity produced carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, are low cost solar thermal power plants the viable long-term answer?

By: Ringo Bones 

Here’s a solar energy generation concept that could surely make solar power advocate Ed Begley, Jr. blush, but could low cost solar thermal power plants be a practical and economically viable long term solution in curbing our conventional power generating activity from dumping excess carbon dioxide gas into the Earth’s atmosphere? Luckily, the idea seems to point a sunny future on the concept of affordable renewable energy power generation. 

A civil engineer named Andrea Pedretti says constructing low cost solar thermal power plants using simple aluminized plastic foil is up to 50 times cheaper than the glass based mirrors currently used as the parabolic mirror through in a solar thermal power plant. Aluminized plastic foils found in the market today are now about as corrosion resistant as the glass based mirrors currently used in solar thermal power plant construction. Given that aluminized plastic foils used as a mirror are much lighter than their glass based counterparts, most of the financial savings in constructing these types of solar thermal power plants could mostly come from using cheaper support structures bearing much lighter loads.   

Andrea Pedretti’s low cost solar thermal power plant concept had been tested in a Moroccan cement factory and shows results on par with their costlier rivals that use conventional glass based mirrors on their parabolic through arrays that heat the working substance – like oil or water – that generate power by being directed to drive a dynamo type electrical generator. If scaled up, aluminized plastic foil based low cost solar thermal power plants could finally make practical clean solar power available to the parts of the world who can’t afford conventional solar thermal power plants. If the concept becomes successful, who needs the groundwater pollution risks of fracking.