24 hour a day thermosolar powered electricity is now possible.

May 11, 2008
19,467
1,158
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There is fresh news about the Gema solar tower. It is up and running now while producing electrical energy 24 hours a day. This is done by heating molten salt with concentrated solar "light".

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It seems that at least some of the "ebil" middle east oil barons have seen the light and invested heavily into thermo solar project as can be read in this thread : http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2173435


http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-thermosolar-power-station-spain-night.html

The Torresol Energy Gemasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Seville. The unique thermosolar power station in southern Spain can shrug off cloudy days: energy stored when the sun shines lets it produce electricity even during the night.

The Gemasolar station, up and running since last May, stands out in the plains of Andalusia.
From the road between Seville and Cordoba, one can see its central tower lit up like a beacon by 2,600 solar mirrors, each 120 square metres (28,500 square feet), that surround it in an immense 195-hectare (480-acre) circle.
"It is the first station in the world that works 24 hours a day, a solar power station that works day and night!" said Santago Arias, technical director of Torresol Energy, which runs the station.
The mechanism is "very easy to explain," he said: the panels reflect the suns rays on to the tower, transmitting energy at an intensity 1,000 times higher than that of the sun's rays reaching the earth.
Energy is stored in a vat filled with molten salts at a temperature of more than 500 degrees C (930 F). Those salts are used to produce steam to turn the turbines and produce electricity.
It is the station's capacity to store energy that makes Gemasolar so different because it allows the plant to transmit power during the night, relying on energy it has accumulated during the day.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (left) with Spain's King Juan Carlos at last year's opening of the solar power plant. Torresol Energy is a joint venture between the Spanish engineering group Sener, which holds 60 percent, and Abu Dhabi-financed renewable energy firm Masdar.
"I use that energy as I see fit, and not as the sun dictates," Arias explained.
As a result, the plant produces 60 percent more energy than a station without storage capacity because it can work 6,400 hours a year compared to 1,200-2,000 hours for other solar power stations, he said.
"The amount of energy we produce a year is equal to the consumption of 30,000 Spanish households," Arias said, an annual saving of 30,000 tonnes of CO2.
Helped by generous state aid, renewable energies have enjoyed a boom in Spain, the world number two in solar energy and the biggest wind power producer in Europe, ahead of Germany.
For the Gemasolar solar product, foreign investors helped too: Torresol Energy is a joint venture between the Spanish engineering group Sener, which holds 60 percent, and Abu Dhabi-financed renewable energy firm Masdar.
It is the station's capacity to store energy that makes Gemasolar so different because it allows the plant to transmit power during the night, relying on energy it has accumulated during the day.
"This type of station is expensive, not because of the raw material we use, which is free solar energy, but because of the enormous investment these plants require," Arias said.
The investment cost exceeds 200 million euros ($260 million).
But "the day when the business has repaid that money to the banks (in 18 years, he estimates), this station will become a 1,000-euro note printing machine!," he said, recalling that oil prices have soared from $28 a barrel in 2003 to nearly $130.
For now, the economic crisis has nevertheless cast a shadow over this kind of project: Spain is battling to slash its deficit as it slides into recession and has suspended aid to new renewable energy projects.
Andalusia, hard hit by the economic crisis with the country's highest unemployment rate at 31.23 percent, holds regional elections on March 25.
"We have three projects ready but stalled" because of the aid suspension, Arias said, admitting that in a difficult global economy the group has not managed to sell the Gemasolar techology abroad despite huge interest outside Spain.

To be honest, i hope that the Arab spring and also the continuous investments being done in desert solar projects will produce fruits of labor.

I made some interesting observations as a side note.
Although the conclusion is drawn rather hasty and highly speculative, it all lies in the realm of possibility :
  • We have the Tamar natural gas field of the coast of Israel. Discovered in 2009.
  • We have the Levatian natural gas field of the coast of Israel. Discovered in 2010.
  • Greece needs to pay of a lot of loaned money and interest back to the IMF, and EU countries.
    And to the US as well ?
  • Israel and Greece work together to harvest those natural gas and oil fields. I think around 2016 we are going to see some serious changes.
  • Europe is highly dependent on natural gas from Russia through nordstream. Having an alternative through the Turkey+ Italy+ Greece pipeline will give the EU an strategic and political edge against Russia.
    However, EU and Turkish relations are a bit difficult it seems according to the news because of Cyprus wanting to exploit the fossil fuel reserves, of course because they need to pay off a great deal of debt.
  • It was recently in the news that Israel is reaching out to Greece. Strengthening the political and economic bonds. I think specialized Israeli offshore companies are going to help Greece out. And Israel has a way to negotiate with the EU about selling natural gas.
  • If Morroco and other Middle east countries start to produce thermo solar generated electricity, Europe would be interested to buy that clean electricity. As will the "local" market in the middle east.

All in all, although there is a lot of saber rattling, A lot of people in the middle east want peace and a healthy economy. And i assume here that an EU not dependent to much on Russian gas, will more easily help to protect the citizens in the ME, although it is of course also for own interests.

There are interesting events becoming highly probable. If it will happen, remains to be seen...

The US will play a big part in all this though...
The Iran debacle will need to be solved first before stability can be reached.
 
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Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
33,423
7,484
136
Great, now if we could just cap the human population on the planet to match the numbers provided for by these plants...

30,000 Spanish homes isn't shabby, but we'll need over a million of these.
 

DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
6,020
9
81
There is fresh news about the Gema solar tower. It is up and running now while producing electrical energy 24 hours a day. This is done by heating molten salt with concentrated solar "light".

panelsreflec.jpg



1-renewableene.jpg


It seems that at least some of the "ebil" middle east oil barons have seen the light and invested heavily into thermo solar project as can be read in this thread : http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2173435


http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-thermosolar-power-station-spain-night.html



To be honest, i hope that the Arab spring and also the continuous investments being done in desert solar projects will produce fruits of labor.

I made some interesting observations as a side note.
Although the conclusion is drawn rather hasty and highly speculative, it all lies in the realm of possibility :
  • We have the Tamar natural gas field of the coast of Israel. Discovered in 2009.
  • We have the Levatian natural gas field of the coast of Israel. Discovered in 2010.
  • Greece needs to pay of a lot of loaned money and interest back to the IMF, and EU countries.
    And to the US as well ?
  • Israel and Greece work together to harvest those natural gas and oil fields. I think around 2016 we are going to see some serious changes.
  • Europe is highly dependent on natural gas from Russia through nordstream. Having an alternative through the Turkey+ Italy+ Greece pipeline will give the EU an strategic and political edge against Russia.
    However, EU and Turkish relations are a bit difficult it seems according to the news because of Cyprus wanting to exploit the fossil fuel reserves, of course because they need to pay off a great deal of debt.
  • It was recently in the news that Israel is reaching out to Greece. Strengthening the political and economic bonds. I think specialized Israeli offshore companies are going to help Greece out. And Israel has a way to negotiate with the EU about selling natural gas.
  • If Morroco and other Middle east countries start to produce thermo solar generated electricity, Europe would be interested to buy that clean electricity. As will the "local" market in the middle east.

All in all, although there is a lot of saber rattling, A lot of people in the middle east want peace and a healthy economy. And i assume here that an EU not dependent to much on Russian gas, will more easily help to protect the citizens in the ME, although it is of course also for own interests.

There are interesting events becoming highly probable. If it will happen, remains to be seen...

The US will play a big part in all this though...
The Iran debacle will need to be solved first before stability can be reached.

They are building two of these in Arizona (United States) right now that will be the largest each. This produces 20MW, but the ones in Arizona will each be 200MW, and the tower will be the second tallest man made structure in the world. It is being built by some Australian company.
 

BoberFett

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
37,563
9
81
Impressive tech, it would be cool to see more of these where feasible.

They are building two of these in Arizona (United States) right now that will be the largest each. This produces 20MW, but the ones in Arizona will each be 200MW, and the tower will be the second tallest man made structure in the world. It is being built by some Australian company.

200MW seems far fetched. This one is 480 acres in size. Unless there is some more efficient energy generation scheme they'd be using, getting 10 times the power output would require 10 times the solar energy, meaning 4800 acres or roughly 7.5 square miles of mirrors. That simply doesn't seem feasible.

And 200MW is still far less than a typical nuclear plant, so you'd need several 7.5 sq mi plants to equal a single nuke plant.
 
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Dec 30, 2004
12,554
2
76
They are building two of these in Arizona (United States) right now that will be the largest each. This produces 20MW, but the ones in Arizona will each be 200MW, and the tower will be the second tallest man made structure in the world. It is being built by some Australian company.

200 eh? That's interesting.
What the....I'm starting to think sustainable electricity production is actually possible....
 

Thegonagle

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2000
9,773
0
71
I first read about a similar concept in a "how stuff works" encyclopedia published in the 70's. The picture looked almost the same: an array of mirrors aimed to concentrate the sun's reflection into a tower that collected the heat. The main difference was that they boiled water inside the tower, so there was no energy storage potential.

The game changer here is the ability to store the heat for later use.
 

SilthDraeth

Platinum Member
Oct 28, 2003
2,635
0
71
I saw the one outside of Barstow. I also noticed it being gone recently. Didn't quite realize they had demolished it. I just thought maybe I was remembering the landscape wrong.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
31,535
9,890
136
let me know when you can get multi-GW power outputs from reasonably sized solar farms.

till then, nuclear = gg.
 

DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
6,020
9
81
let me know when you can get multi-GW power outputs from reasonably sized solar farms.

till then, nuclear = gg.


The 2 towers in Arizona will have a combined output of 400MW, and they are just the beginning. So a GW isn't out of the range of possibility soon.
 
May 11, 2008
19,467
1,158
126
Way cool...though fusion is the future.

Fusion, i agree. But that will take some time.
Letting go of false notions is not that easy...
It will be a while before someone starts from scratch to find out what is going wrong and how to keep it under control.
However, i have faith in this research :

http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-03-magnetic-cloak-physicists-device-invisible.html

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Autonomous University of Barcelona researchers, in collaboration with an experimental group from the Academy of Sciences of Slovakia, have created a cylinder which hides contents and makes them invisible to magnetic fields. The device was built using superconductor and ferromagnetic materials available on the market. The invention is published this week in the journal Science.

The superconductor layer of the cylinder prevents the magnetic field from reaching the interior, but distorts the external field and thus makes it detectable. To avoid detection, the ferromagnetic outer layer made of iron, nickel and chrome, produce the opposite effect. It attracts the magnetic field lines and compensates the distortion created by the superconductor, but without allowing the field to reach the interior. The global effect is a completely non-existent magnetic field inside the cylinder and absolutely no distortions in the magnetic field outside.


And this research :
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-quantum-levitating-video-viral.html
uyttrrr.jpg

A video created by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel has the Internet buzzing. Though rather simple, it just looks really cool, hence all the attention. It’s a demonstration of quantum locking, though to non-science buffs, it looks more like science fiction come to life. In the video a disc, obviously frozen due to the vapor rising from its surface hovers over a surface.

First a thin sapphire wafer is created. It is then coated with a very thin ceramic layer of yttrium barium copper oxide which becomes a superconductor (materials that conduct electricity with no loss of energy) at very cold temperatures. The result is a frozen disc. When it is placed over a magnet, the superconductor material and magnet repel one another due to the Meissner effect (the expulsion of the magnetic field from a material when it goes into a superconducting state). But, because the layer of superconducting material is so thin, some of the magnetic force is allowed through at certain particularly weak points. These paths through are called flux tubes, and they are the real secret to the whole trick. Because there are many of them they cause a three dimensional holding or locking effect, which is what viewers see when watching the video.



Thermal solar together with fusion is ideal.
Thermal solar with current state of the art fission nuclear plants would allow us to reduce oil and natural gas consumption. Fossil fuels will always be a dirty fuel. Dirty fuel when not used stationary while completely used up or converted into individual non lethal components. Catalysts do a fine job on an automobile, but would do a better job when used stationary such as in a power plant. It would reduce efficiency in terms of electrical output towards customers, but it would increase efficiency towards a clean production of electricity. The less lethal waste, the better. When a human can stand in that chimney and breathe (without getting sick or delayed sickness) while electricity is being produced, the goal is reached.

For any mobile activity, electrical engines are far better. When storage capacity for electrical energy has finally become matured, fossil fuels will no longer be necessary. Then crude oil and natural gas will be only used to produce oils, plastics and many other daily products.

To be honest, there are fission designs that fully use all fuel. But these designs only exist on paper and have existed in labs at a small scale. The problem is that always these designs will use weapon grade plutonium. But weapon grade plutonium is also very useful as a power source. There are even (thorium based) fission designs that use plutonium meant for weapons. I personally think these designs are the best, because it allows every country to get rid of the nuclear weapons and turn these weapons into something peaceful : Energy for every day living.
But that is wishful thinking for the moment...

Thermosolar power is in it's infants when it comes to energy storage. It will be a while before it can be scaled up. The obvious problems will be how to extract even more energy from the solar "light" and store that energy as heat as efficient as possible. I do wonder how efficient current techniques are for heating water and driving turbines. If only we could turn a heat difference directly into local magnetic field changes...
And use electromagnetic induction directly...
 

Thegonagle

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2000
9,773
0
71
let me know when you can get multi-GW power outputs from reasonably sized solar farms.

till then, nuclear = gg.

You know, it doesn't have to be just one or the other. Every single watt generated by solar and other renewable sources is a watt that doesn't need to be generated through traditional means. It's going to be a gradual transition, no matter what, but I believe we should double down on renewables instead of keeping the status quo.

We should keep building more and more renewable generators, as fast as we can, wherever it works (rooftops and parking lots spring to mind), and before you know it, old coal, gas, and meltdown-prone nuclear power plants could be shut down without needing to be replaced.

And if we must use nuclear, we have to get better at it, and we're not. Almost nobody is investing in "safer" nuclear energy. We're running 40+ year old nuke plants now, based on 50+ year old technology with many serious flaws.

A meltdown (or three, in the case of Fukushima) every 20 years on average is not acceptable, no matter how unusual or unpredictable the circumstances. It just isn't.
 
May 11, 2008
19,467
1,158
126
They are building two of these in Arizona (United States) right now that will be the largest each. This produces 20MW, but the ones in Arizona will each be 200MW, and the tower will be the second tallest man made structure in the world. It is being built by some Australian company.

Amazing. Great stuff !
I sure hope some of the US brightest of the brightest will join in, improving efficiency and coming up with solutions to protect against nasty weather.
To protect against sand storms.
To increase the EM band at which the mirrors reflect EM waves.
To lower UV into the IR range.
A lot of the solar panel research could be used to improve those mirrors.
A lot of solar panel research could be used to improve conversion of solar "light" including UV into heat energy.

The US needs a silicon valley again but this time for power generation.
What happened to that country where the government was always giving out contracts to startups fresh from the university ?
The US can and will not be left out (If it was up to me...).
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,398
19
81
This sound a lot more viable than photo cells and billions of ICs and wire which need service all the time, fail all the time, and become obsolete in a year as more efficient models come. Pretty straight forward and mechanical on it's surface and 24/7 power generation is just a bonus - not that you need as much at night.

DC you got a link for this Arizona project?
 
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