Thursday, May 03, 2007
SciFi'ish Sunshine Scene
Via Clifford Johnson, a link to a BBC report about the first commercially operating solar thermal power plant in Europe. Located in sunny Andalusia, it generates 11 MW of electrical power from sunshine alone by concentrating the light of the sun on the top of a 115 m tall tower by means of 600 heliostats, huge mirrors that track the Sun in the sky. The concentrated light is so intense that when scattered off the water vapour and dust in the air it creates the scifi-like special effect visible in the picture at the BBC link. If this kind of power plant is shown to work well commercially, the resulting increase in energy production could be a huge boost to the economy of developping countries in the subtropics, and the Gulf sheikhs will have nothing to worry about when the oil runs out -- they have plenty of sunshine in the Arabian desert after all.