Large Scale Solar Energy Production

April 20, 2013

The abundance of available renewable energy resources around give us the opportunity to exploit and to produce energy from it, as from solar energy resources, the current renewable energy available for global consumption is around 84,000 TW. Our sun produces around 400,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000 watts of energy every second and the belief is that it will last another 5 billion years.

Nowadays, there exist an extremely large variety of solar technologies, and photovoltaics have been gaining an increasing market share for the last 20 years. There are two ways we can do to generate electricity from the solar energy :

COLAS - Wattway - route solar road[Image Source: Wattaway]

1. Solar thermal. 

Solar Thermal electric energy generation concentrates the light from the sun to generate heat from the engine. There are few main parts in the process of electricity generation with solar thermal : concentrator, collector, working fluid, power conditioner, and storage. The working fluid is heated by the concentrated sunlight in the form of oil or gas.

2. Photovoltaic.

Photovoltaic or PV directly convert the sun’s light into electricity. This mean, energy will be produced during daylight where the sunlight available and at its maximum peak. Although the usage of electricity generated by PV can be consumed 24hours with the help of storage system, for large scale production, PV is less efficient than Solar Thermal.

In large scale production, solar thermal leads in terms of cost-effectiveness with low negative impact to the environmental. Currently, there are two methods for solar thermal collection : line focus and point focus. The different from both methods are the form of the infrastructure, line focus is parabola-shaped mirror which rotates on a single axis throughout the day tracking the sun, whereas, point focus requires a series of mirrors surrounding the tower that transfer the heat into more usable energy.

The world’s largest Solar Thermal Farm

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System: a $2.2 billion project to be completed this year, it will supply around 140,000 California homes.