Posted by SJC on December 20, 2005, 4:30 pm
Bret Cahill wrote:
Fine, show me a place where I can buy a solar thermal/stirling
electric power generator for a few cents/watt in the 1 to 10 KW
range. To the best of my knowledge (which, admittedly is limited)
no such beast exists.
The new Edison project with solar thermal stirling dishes on a large scale
shows that this was their choice. For homes, PV might be the way to go to
get distributed generation. Central production and transmission may not
be the only way to go. The recent interest in PV may bring prices down
some, but it will still be compared to central generation and distribution.
If you believe in the market system, at some point those will cross over
and you will have an economic choice as well.
Posted by R.H. Allen on December 21, 2005, 6:18 am
That doesn't amount to an endorsement, IMO. In the past they've also
"chosen" PV and solar thermal towers. In essence, they're conducting a
research project. If you look at the way the deal is structured, they're
actually going to start very small. If the Stirling engines don't
measure up as promised, the project will never proceed to large scale.
And even at its largest scale, it's still amounts to a pretty small
Not to mention the fact that while Stirling dishes and other solar
concentrating systems might work well in the desert southwest, they
aren't so hot across large swaths of the country. That's not to say
they're useless, just that "better" in one place is not necessarily
better in another.
The cost of producing electricity is only compared to that of central
generation when the electricity will be produced centrally. In other
words, a homeowner installing PV (or solar thermal, or what have you)
does not compare the cost of the PV system to the local utility's
generation cost but to its retail cost. The bar is set higher (i.e., to
a lower cost) for central generation.
Posted by Bret Cahill on December 21, 2005, 8:42 pm
If pure Si isn't low cost by now, it just isn't going to happen.
Materials people make a lot of astounding discoveries but nothing THAT
In sharp contrast we know for sure mass production engines are < a few
cents a watt. The engine in your SUV, with all the cams, fuel
injection & poppet valves, is only ONE  cent a watt.
Go to your auto parts store. They'll have a rebuilt engine on display
for 0.6 cents/watt.
Posted by Bret Cahill on December 21, 2005, 8:45 pm
< Central production and transmission
< may not be the only way to go.
I don't know why they do it at all with solar -- ANY kind of solar.
Posted by Johnny on December 23, 2005, 12:24 am