German architect André Broessel, of Rawlemon, has looked into his crystal ball and seen the future of renewable energy. In this case it’s a spherical sun-tracking solar energy-generating globe — essentially a giant glass marble on a robotic steel frame. But this marble is no toy. It concentrates both sunlight and moonlight up to 10,000 times — making its solar harvesting capabilities 35% more efficient than conventional dual-axis photovoltaic designs. André Broessel was a finalist in the World Technology Network Award 2013 with the globe’s design and afterward produced this latest version, called Betaray, which can concentrate diffuse light such as that from a cloudy day. Let me repeat that. This is 35% more efficient than current solar panels and is able to operate on cloudy days. It concentrates light by 10,000 times.
When talking about concentrated solar power, we usually mean focusing the sun’s energy from a large area into a smaller area, which generates a lot of heat that can be used to produce electricity. His design also integrates a fully rotational tracking system to optimize the solar energy gain throughout the day, and is said to be able to be mounted on or in walls for use with either PV panels or solar thermal applications. This is a beautiful device, but there’s at least one big question that comes up when discussing the idea of integrating these units into buildings, which is the weight of these water-filled lenses, which could easily outweigh any other options for rooftop or wall-mounted solar energy devices. Other limiting factors in producing these might be the high cost (and the technology needed) for turning out optical grade glass balls of a significant size, such as the one in the prototype, and the high temperatures generated on the surface of the PV panels.
wiki >> Concentrated solar power – A study done by Greenpeace International, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association, and the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES group investigated the potential and future of concentrated solar power. The study found that concentrated solar power could account for up to 25% of the world’s energy needs by 2050. The increase in investment would be from 2 billion euros worldwide to 92.5 billion euros in that time period. Spain is the leader in concentrated solar power technology, with more than 50 government-approved projects in the works.
Because the technology works best with areas of high insolation (solar radiation), experts predict the biggest growth in places like Africa, Mexico, and the southwest United States. It indicates that the thermal storage systems based in nitrates (calcium, potassium, sodium,…) will make the CSP plants more and more profitable. The study acknowledged how technology for CSP was improving and how this would result in a drastic price decrease by 2050. It predicted a drop from the current range of €0.23–0.15/kwh to €0.14–0.10/kwh. Recently the EU has begun to look into developing a €400 billion ($774 billion) network of solar power plants based in the Sahara region using CSP technology known as Desertec, to create „a new carbon-free network linking Europe, the Middle East and North Africa”. The plan is backed mainly by German industrialists and predicts production of 15% of Europe’s power by 2050.
Daca se instaleaza CSP-uri pe 0.5% din suprafata UE, se acopera necesarul actual de energie al Uniunii Europene. In Orientul Apropiat procentajul scade la 0.07% iar in Africa, centrale eletrice solare cu aceasta tehnologie, instalate pe doar 0.01% din suprafata, acopera tot necesarul de energie al continentului. 0.3% din suprafata Africii de Nord, desigur in Sahara, acoperit cu ferme solare, poate produce necesarul de energie consumat de toata Europa.
Un studiu Bloomberg din Australia a constatat ca energia eoliana e deja cu 14% mai ieftina decit energia produsa cu carbune, si cu 18% mai ieftina decit energia produsa cu gaz, daca sa iau in calcul investitii in noi unitati de productie. Din 2011 pina in 2014 costul energiei eoliene a scazut cu 10% iar costul energiei produse prin panouri fotovoltaice a scazut cu 29%! In Australia nu se vor mai construi noi centrale pe carbune, pentru ca investitiile in energii regenerabile deja sunt mai rentabile. Dar centralele care au fost construite mai demult si care s-au amortizat deja, produc in continuare energie mai ieftina si de aceea e nevoie de politici, de subventii de stat pentru a se trece la energii regenerabile.
6.01.2014 – Unsubsidised renewables now cheaper than subsidised fossil fuels- Australia – A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in Australia has discovered that renewable energy is cheaper to produce than the old conventional fossil fuel sources, and that is without the subsidies. The study shows that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AUD 80/MWh (USD 83), compared to AUD 143/MWh from a new coal plant or AUD 116/MWh from a new baseload gas plant, including the cost of emissions under the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme. However even without a carbon price, wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s research on Australia shows that since 2011, the cost of wind generation has fallen by 10% and the cost of solar photovoltaics by 29%. In contrast, the cost of energy from new fossil-fuelled plants is high and rising. New coal is made expensive by high financing costs. BNEF’s analysts conclude that by 2020, large-scale solar PV will also be cheaper than coal and gas, when carbon prices are factored in. By 2030, dispatchable renewable generating technologies such as biomass and solar thermal could also be cost-competitive. The results suggest that the Australian economy is likely to be powered extensively by renewable energy in the future and that investment in new fossil-fuel power generation may be limited, unless there is a sharp, and sustained, fall in Asia-Pacific natural gas prices.
“It is very unlikely that new coal-fired power stations will be built in Australia. They are just too expensive now, compared to renewables”, said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of clean energy research for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia. “Even baseload gas may struggle to compete with renewables. Australia is unlikely to require new baseload capacity until after 2020, and by this time wind and large-scale PV should be significantly cheaper than burning expensive, export-priced gas. By 2020-30 we will be finding new and innovative ways to deal with the intermittency of wind and solar, so it is quite conceivable that we could leapfrog straight from coal to renewables to reduce emissions as carbon prices rise.” he added.
Despite compelling economics for new-build renewables today, Australia’s fleet of coal-fired power stations built by state governments in the 1970s and 1980s can still produce power at lower cost than renewables, because their original construction cost has now been depreciated. “New wind is cheaper than building new coal and gas, but cannot compete with old assets that have already been paid off,” Bhavnagri said. “For that reason policy support is still needed to put megawatts in the ground today and build up the skills and experience to de-carbonise the energy system in the long-term.”
By 2050, with appropriate support, CSP could provide 11.3% of global electricity, with 9.6% from solar power and 1.7% from backup fuels (fossil fuels or biomass).
In the sunniest countries, CSP can be expected to become a competitive source of bulk power in peak and intermediate loads by 2020, and of base-load power by 2025 to 2030.
The possibility of integrated thermal storage is an important feature of CSP plants, and virtually all of them have fuel-power backup capacity. Thus, CSP offers firm, flexible electrical production capacity to utilities and grid operators while also enabling effective management of a greater share of variable energy from other renewable sources (e.g. photovoltaic and wind power).
This roadmap envisions North America as the largest producing and consuming region for CSP electricity, followed by Africa (as producer), Europe (as consumer), India and the Middle East. Northern Africa has the potential to be a large exporter (mainly to Europe) as its higher solar resource largely compensates for the additional cost of long transmission lines.
. Given the arid/semi-arid nature of environments that are well-suited for CSP, a key challenge is accessing the cooling water needed for CSP plants. Dry or hybrid dry/wet cooling can be used in areas with limited water resources.
The main limitation to expansion of CSP plants is not the availability of areas suitable for power production, but the distance between these areas and many large consumption centres. This roadmap examines technologies that address this challenge through efficient, long-distance electricity transportation.
CSP can also produce significant amounts of high-temperature heat for industrial processes. Also, CSP facilities could begin providing competitive solar-only or solar-enhanced gaseous or liquid fuels by 2030. By 2050, CSP could produce enough solar hydrogen to displace 3% of global natural gas consumption, and nearly 3% of the global consumption of liquid fuels.