SkyFuel, a company which has been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on utility-scale concentrated solar power plants, has recently come out with a new parabolic trough system. The technology itself is not new – mirrors reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a salt solution which boils and turns a turbine. Skyfuel’s system stands out, though, because it is cheaper, lighter and easy to manufacture and install.
The parabolic mirrors themselves are made out of plastic and silver, instead of glass. The plastic is what makes the system cheaper – 25% cheaper, according to SkyFuel. They claim that they can offer electricity below 15 cents; currently the standard for solar thermal, though higher than the average cost of non-renewable electricity. And the light weight of the plastic means that the entire system can be loaded onto a single flatbed truck and shipped to its destination.
As more and more utilities try to meet their renewable portfolio standards, the demand for solar thermal is increasing. Solar thermal is a proven, and the low cost and easy installation of Skyfuel’s system only sweetens the deal. Plus, Skyfuel’s troughs can be connected to existing steam turbines – this lowers the cost even further, and allows utilities to “retrofit” old power plants.
Chris Huntington, vice president of SkyFuel’s business development, made a strong point considering today’s economic climate: "The cost of borrowing is going up everywhere and there will be a tighter credit market. But if any money is going to be spent on CSP (concentrating solar power) plants in the near future, I think it's going to be on tried-and-true systems like the parabolic trough."
Via CNET, Skyfuel
written by asheley, October 13, 2008
written by me, October 14, 2008
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