Photokina 2014 highlights

Solar Power Tower

The CSIRO has generated 'supercritical steam' at a pressure of 23.5 MPa (3,400 psi) and 57...

Researchers at Australia's CSIRO have claimed a world record for the highest temperatures ever achieved using solar energy to generate "supercritical" steam at its solar thermal test plant in Newcastle, Australia. Featuring more than 600 directional mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers housing solar receivers and turbines, the researchers produced the steam at a pressure of 23.5 MPa (3400 psi) and 570° C (1,058° F).  Read More

The world's largest solar thermal generation plant, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Syst...

After three years of construction, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) is now operational. The 392 MW plant, funded by NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy, is expected to generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes, each year. NRG announced last week that each of the plant's three units is now supplying electricity to California’s grid.  Read More

Artist's conception of a commercial hydrogen production plant that uses sunlight to split ...

A new technique developed by a University of Colorado Boulder team converts sunshine and water directly into usable fuel. The technique involves concentrating sunlight in a solar tower to achieve temperatures high enough to drive chemical reactions that split water into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen molecules. In this way, the team says it should be able to cheaply produce massive amounts of hydrogen fuel.  Read More

2011 - a year in technology

We cast a wide net over all types of new and emerging technologies here at Gizmag.com - some save us time, some keep us connected, some help us stay healthy and some are just plain fun, but at the core of what we cover are those discoveries and innovations which have the potential to impact the fortunes of the human race as a whole and make a difference to the future of our planet. So with the calender having rolled over into another year, it's an ideal time to take a look back at some of the most significant and far-reaching breakthroughs that we saw during 2011.  Read More

Gemasolar CSP plant

The Gemasolar Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant near Seville, Spain, has achieved a full 24 hours of solar power production one month after starting commercial operation. The 19.9 MW plant uses a huge array of mirrors to heat a molten salt storage system in the central tower which is then used to run steam turbines, resulting in the ability to continue energy production after the sun goes down.  Read More

Artist's impression of SolarReserve's Concentrated Solar Power Tower plant

One of, if not the biggest, hurdles to be overcome if solar power plants are to replace conventional fossil fuel-based power plants is cost. To be feasible, solar power plants generally require investment from forward thinking companies or governmental tax incentives. In an effort to make solar power plants – specifically Concentrated Solar Power Towers (CSP) and their accompanying thermal storage systems – more attractive, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne US$10.2 million to develop technologies aimed at significantly lowering the electricity costs of such solar plants.  Read More

Model rendering of ISEGS, the world's largest solar power tower being built in California

Google has chipped in a US$168 million investment in what will be the world's largest solar power tower plant. To be located on 3,600 acres of land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will boast 173,000 heliostats that will concentrate the sun's rays onto a solar tower standing approximately 450 feet (137 m) tall. The plant commenced construction in October 2010 and is expected to generate 392 MW of solar energy following its projected completion in 2013.  Read More

Molten salt technology was demonstrated at the Solar Two project

One of the biggest problems with solar energy is that the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. This means that unless users are only planning on using electricity when the sun is shining, some form of energy storage system is required. Since storing excess electricity in rechargeable batteries isn’t really practical for large-scale solar power plants, another storage system is needed. U.S. utility-scale solar project developer SolarReserve has now received approval for the first solar power plant in California that uses molten salt technology to store the sun’s thermal energy as heat so it can generate electricity when needed, at any time of the day or night.  Read More

The new heliostats being installed to create a solar thermal field at CSIRO's Solar Energy...

Although electrical devices have evolved rapidly over the last few decades, the plants used to generate the electricity that power these devices are still dominated by the use of steam turbines that convert thermal energy, usually from the burning of fossil fuels, into mechanical energy. Even newer solar thermal power plants concentrate the sun’s rays to heat water into high-pressure steam to drive a turbine. But with water not always readily available in locations suited to harnessing solar energy, such as deserts, a new type of solar thermal field, tower and research facility is being built in Australia that requires only air and the sun, making it ideal for parts of the world that receive minimal rainfall.  Read More

Rendering of the Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant

The largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the Middle East is to be built in Madinat Zayed, approximately 120 km (75 miles) southwest of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). When it becomes operational in 2012, the plant, dubbed Shams 1, will feature some 6,300,000 square-feet of solar parabolic collectors, cover 741 acres of desert and will produce enough electricity to power 62,000 households.  Read More

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