New Dawn for Solar Energy

15 Jun

In this week`s post, I will continue illuminating the German nuclear phaseout as I did in my last two posts. This topic also gained in relevance as the Italians decided not to build nuclear power plants in their own country 2 days ago.

I n my last post, I dealt with on- and offshore wind energy and to continue the path of the renewables, I  chose solar energy as this week’s theme.

Currently, according to statista.com, only 1.1 % of the total electricity generation comes from photovoltaics, due mostly to its high price. However, as you can see in the statistics below, the solar energy is the one whose share is to increase the most compared to the other kinds of renewable energies. 

Furthermore, the modules are getting cheaper as especially the Chinese entered the market with their low- priced products. Besides this fact, the following video states that firms have to improve the applied technology as well as the products’ effectiveness in order to be competitive and bring the solar energy on a higher level.

Since I was looking especially for people with a profound knowledge as to photovoltaics and curious about how they imagine and forecast this market’s future, my first successful hit was a MIT professor and the Deputy Director of the MIT Energy Initiative, Prof. Robert C. Armstrong. I read an article about his presentation as to so- called “concentrated solar power”. With this presentation, the author of 120 books and papers promoted CSP and described its advantages as follows: “Because of the use of a standard turbine for producing electricity, CSP lends itself to large, utility-scale production of power. CSP is renowned for its simplicity, ability to implement very efficient thermal storage in a straightforward manner, its dispatchability, and its use of proven and reliable technology”.

Since I do not want to bore you with a long, technical definition of CSP, I just you show another pretty neat video which explains it in a very understandable way.

 After some further research, I found this great post by Anja Atkinson who created her own educational blog about renewable energy and particularly solar energy projects. In this post, she compares the CSP to nuclear power plants and makes a striking point by saying:” No, it’s not your imagination, the CSP system operates very much the same as a nuclear plant, creating the same results, only without the safety headaches, while doing so in more cost effective ways”. Moreover, she presents this fabulous idea of “Solar Islands” in a must- see video linked to the post.

She also refers to an interview  initiated by solar CSP news provider CSP Today with Dr. Christoph Wolff, CEO of Solar Millenium, a company producing CSP facilities. In this interview, Wolff gives an outlook on the future of CSP and especially depicts the advantages of a combination of CSP and classic photovoltaics.

Even though Germany might not be as privileged as some Southern European countries in regards to sunshine, I still think solar power has the potential to become one of the pillars of our “nation of renewable energy” and in 2022 enables to raise our “Atomkraft , Nein Danke!” signs and shout “In your face, E.ON, IN YOUR FACE!”;)

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One Response to “New Dawn for Solar Energy”

  1. Dian Stefanov June 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Hi Philip,

    I really liked the way you presented your topic, which is very interesting by the way. As I am really big fan of renewable energy and read a lot about these technologies, I find your post pretty interesting, because you mention some not so popular, but at the same time very important aspects.

    I also think that the future of electricity production is in renewable technology, which becomes more and more accessible for everybody. With the increase in efficiency and dramatic decrease in price, renewable technologies contribute to the establishment of one greener future.

    In my opinion the most advanced type of renewable energy nowadays is thermal power, so if you have interest in it you can go to: http://www.jkearney.com/~dwk/TES_Papers/Tamme_Advanced_Storage.pdf

    Well done!

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