Looking like some sort of alien obelisk in a cheesy sci-fi movie, this new version of solar power generation was sent in to us by the incomparable Number_Six.
The idea is remarkably simple, and in fact similar to an episode of Mythbusters from a few seasons back where they tried to set Adam a Greek trireme on fire using only the power of sunbeams and some dark magic.
Basically, they use a bazillion six hundred mirrors to focus the heat of the sun onto a single point. The light is so heavily focused that it actually illuminates the water vapour in the air. That concentrated magic is then focused onto a sort of heat exchanger that uses the transferred energy to boil water. The steam pressure is used to power conventional steam turbines, and the electricity generated is enough to power about 6,000 homes currently, however the designers expect that when the plant is completed, it will provide enough energy for the entire 600,000-person population of Seville, Spain, where it is built.
Interestingly, the designers claim that it still works on cloudy days — albeit at a lower capacity — but that suits its intention perfectly. This plant is constructed as an alternative and supplementary powerplant, designed primarily to offset the dramatic increases in power consumption during the hottest days of the summer as millions of air conditioners kick in. In hot climates like Spain, this power spike can be enormous, and this plant will largely replace the power grid’s reliance on backup oil or gas power generators, which can be fantastically expensive.
Now those of us in Canada have to figure out how to generate electricity from cold, to offset the electrical spike that comes from trying not to freeze to death.