Here at Worldchanging, it feels like we’ve been following the brilliant possibilities of concentrated solar power (CSP) since Archimedes and the Greeks set Roman ships ablaze with sunlight reflected off their bronze shields. Finally, on August 5, eSolar launched the Sierra SunTower on a sunny stretch of desert in Lancaster, California; the first CSP solar tower of its kind in the US.
While equally heroic, the SunTower is more technologically advanced than Archimedes attempts; instead of bronze shields, it uses 24,000 mirrors angled by sophisticated computer algorithms to concentrate the sun’s energy, and the energy is redirected, instead of at Roman soldiers, to the top of a tower where it heats water and creates steam pressure, powering an engine.
This solar system materialized in only 12 short months, proving that eSolar’s pre-fabricated, patented, and pioneered technology is practical as well as sustainable. Furthermore, eSolar’s decision to build on private land allocated for industrial development gives environmentalists even more to rejoice about; many solar projects are built in public land on otherwise pristine desert.
Experts have estimated the costs for CSP will settle to be less than $.10 per kilowatt hour, well below the current retail rate of California power. At the SunTower unveiling, CEO Bill Gross proudly claimed it was the lowest cost solar project in history.
Though SunTower is a relatively small establishment — producing 5 megawatts of power, enough to supply about 4000 homes in Lancaster — its unique success in speed of construction, efficiency, and cost has eSolar signing contracts to build 465 more megawatts of these solar towers at three sites in California and New Mexico, and a licensing agreement for 1 gigawatt of energy with India-based ACME Group. eSolar is doing more than jumping on the CSP bandwagon; they are leading the way.
Want to learn more? Read the press release here and look into the Worldchanging archives:
World’s Largest Solar Power Plants With Thermal Storage To Be Built In Arizona
World’s Second* Largest Solar Plant To Be Built in Florida
Concentrated Solar Power Goes Mainstream
Yes! Great news!
But not original. In a Popular Mechanics or Popular Science when I was younger this design with artists rendition appeared. I must sound like a crank, or echoic of one of the Tesla-conspirists. Point is, the thing got made and it's online, on-grid. Bravo, idea-stealers!
"Idea stealers"? What a crock! Nothing in the article suggested that eSolar was claiming first invention.
Ideas are a dime a dozen, true value lies when things get done. Great job eSolar.
I'd like to see your arrays shading parking lots and industrial buildings.
Solar Towers are the way forward, the future would be Brayton cycle, a solar tower coupled with combined cycle gas & Steam-turbines and it would be invincible.
Excellent land usage, very low water usage, high efficiency...