Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Solar scale

Good feature in Business 2.0 on the (mostly US) companies pushing big solar power projects:
This is not Jimmy Carter's energy crisis, when government subsidies ran ahead of market realities and launched a thousand solar projects that never saw the light of day. Their rusting hulks can still be seen scattered around the test fields: 1970s-vintage solar dishes, a 200-foot solar tower, parabolic mirrors surrounded by the detritus of bygone experiments.
This is the real deal. This is industrial-strength solar energy, sold to public utilities in 20-year contracts measured in gigawatts.

Author Todd Woody is putting up extra information that couldn't fit into the main feature on his blog, the unfortunately named Green Wombat. There's a very good point raised in his initial post focusing on Stirling Energy Systems:
[Stirling VP Bob Liden] argues that scaling up from the six dishes the company currently operates in New Mexico to tens of thousands of dishes isn't as daunting as it seems. "If you’re talking to a finance guy, he might take a look at it and say this going to be absolutely impossible to make happen," says Liden. "But if you take someone who comes out of manufacturing, like at Ford or GM, they say, hey, we do this all the time. Yeah, you have to start some place, with some hand-built units. That’s what they do when they build a new car. Once you figure that out, you turn it over to the guys who know how to do the manufacturing engineering, the industrial engineering, and before long, bango, before long you can put these things out pretty darn fast."

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