When I first saw a headline about "beam-down" solar power the first thing that popped to mind was a Japanese plan which would involve solar panels in space which would generate power which would be transmitted to the Earth's surface via microwaves. This next post isn't about that, it is still about scientists in Japan and it is about solar, but that's pretty much where the similarities stop.
Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology are reporting that they have developed a new Beam-Down solar thermal technology which they say could reduce the cost of solar thermal power. So how does this differ from your garden variety solar thermal power plant?
Sunlight Bounced Twice
This new method works somewhat like solar thermal systems which use sun-tracking mirrors (heliostats) to bounce sunlight onto a central tower to heat a liquid which is used to generate power. The difference is that instead of the light being bounced directly onto the tower, in the Beam-Down System it is first bounced on to a central reflector and then down onto a receiving unit on the ground. From there a liquid is heated, steam is generated, which drives a turbine and voila, you have electricity.
The researchers are claiming that the total cost of the Beam-Down System will be 8.37 US cents/kWh and that this system has the highest megawatt potential of any solar power generation method.
Research to Practice
Moving from research to practice, Masdar City the $22 billion built-from-scratch, zero-emissions city being built in Abu Dhabi will host a 100 KW beam-down solar thermal power plant, which is expected to be up and running by the end of 2008.
Want more detailed information (as in academic research paper detailed), check out the original Beam-Down System for Solar Power paper.
via :: Greentech Media, :: SENER and :: New Energy News
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