The solar arm of Spanish renewable energy and engineering giant Abengoa is already one of the few companies in the world with a working solar power tower — a technology that uses dozens of concentrating heliostats (made of glass or mirrors) that focus sunlight onto a tall central tower. And this morning Abengoa is showing off a next-gen version of the solar power tower, dubbed Eureka, that uses a receiver (the sunlight collection point in the tower) that can achieve much higher temperatures. Abengoa says higher temperatures make the system more efficient, meaning a lower cost of power generation, less land needed and a lower cost of the overall system.
The next-gen project is experimental at this point, covering 16,000 square feet, and producing 2 MW with 35 heliostats and a 164-foot tower. One of Abengoa’s other solar power towers produces 11 MW with 624 heliostats and a 377-foot tower. But Abengoa says that it is “the first high-temperature solar tower in Europe.”
Way cool, which means it’s very hot – of course. I have no experience with this variation on the theme of letting ol’ Sol provide the energy for heating a liquid to steam and driving a generator. But, it certainly seems to be working just fine for these folks in Spain.
The time to completion, the absence of regulations [jive and otherwise] attendant upon nuclear power generation certainly makes this technology a lot more encouraging.
Thanks to Katie Fehrenbacher