Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have created the world’s most efficient solar thermal installation.
Grid-scale renewable energy generation moves closer to commercial reality
Their efforts will help renewable energy compete with the electricity generated from conventional sources.
The ANU team has redesigned the system’s receiver for a solar concentrator dish. They have used a 500 square meter solar concentrator dish made up of a concave surface of reflectors, directing sunlight to a receiver suspended at the focal point. It focuses the power of 2,100 suns onto the receiver, through which water is pumped and heated to 500 degrees Celsius.
The team described its ultra-efficient receiver design as a cavity that resembles a top hat with a narrow opening and a wide brim. The dish reflects sunlight onto the water pipes that spiral around the underside of the brim and up into the hat…heating the water and turning it into steam.
It is designed in a way that it halved its energy losses and achieved a 97 percent conversion of sunlight into steam.
As per ANU’s Dr. John Pye, this new design could result in a 10% reduction in the cost of solar thermal electricity.
Pye said, “Ultimately the work in this project is all about reducing the cost of concentrating solar thermal energy. Our aim is to get costs down to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, so that this technology will be competitive. This new design could result in a 10 percent reduction in the cost of solar thermal electricity. I’m optimistic that our technology can play a role in the grid, by helping to provide power at night without fossil fuel power stations running.”