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What are current capital costs of solar thermal electric?

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Posted by brianb on June 18, 2004, 4:56 am
Have they come down lately?  Or are they still about $K / KW?

Posted by Tony Wesley on June 18, 2004, 11:47 am
bri1600bv@hotmail.com (brianb) wrote in message

Excuse my ignorance.
What is solar thermal electric?

Posted by Scott Willing on June 18, 2004, 2:54 pm
 On 18 Jun 2004 04:47:41 -0700, tony@tonywesley.com (Tony Wesley)

I think maybe it's solar electric with "thermal" thrown in.

If the OP had posted in alt.energy.homepower or alt.solar.photovoltaic
there'd be some folks jumping in to quote their favorite amazing deals
(smashed cells for 50 cents a Watt or whatever).

The answer is that prices have been dropping slowly but surely, they
are still around US$/W *on average* (though one can do better) and
despite claims, none of the non-silicon technologies that purportedly
hold out the promise of changing the picture dramatically have
materialized on store shelves just yet. We're hopeful, but not holding
our collective breath.


Posted by Scott Willing on June 20, 2004, 10:27 pm
 On Fri, 18 Jun 2004 09:54:43 -0500, Scott Willing

Homer Simpson: Oh, he meant solar THERMAL electric.

There's one outfit I ran across a few years back in a net search who
claim their solar-trough-heated Stirling-driven generation design
should (unproven last time I looked) double the efficiency of
(sun->electrical output) of PV. I've no idea how that compares with
other solar thermal electric alternatives.


Posted by brianb on June 18, 2004, 6:33 pm
 tony@tonywesley.com (Tony Wesley) wrote in message

No problem.  

Anyway, once upon a time there was a company called "La Luz"
corporation or something like that.  They had a "solar thermal" plant
out in the Mojave desert.

Solar thermal isn't PV.  It uses concentrators to focus sunlight (like
a magnifying glass, kind of) on a thin pipe of oil, heating it to high
temperatures.  Then the oil is used to heat and boil water, turn a
generator, etc to make electricity.

The overall efficiency isn't that great, maybe 10% efficient, sunlight
to electricity, but you avoid the issue of PV cost.

I was looking on the internet and read something like "our goal is to
have solar thermal down to $/ watt by 2000", meaning capital cost.
So with output of say 2000 kwh per kwatt installed per year, that
gives a cost of about 5 cents per kwh (assuming annual amortization
and interest of 10% of the installed capital cost of $000 / KW or
$00 in this case).   This was an old paper, obviously.

Solar thermal is interesting in that its output, like PV, mimics
somewhat the demand curve for power, thus it's good for "peaking"

PV, last I heard was somewhere around $-$ per watt.  Obviously too
expensive for commercial power use.  It looks like solar thermal is
still too expensive too (Luz Corp. went bankrupt eventually, I think),
otherwise you (and I) would probalby have heard more about it.

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