Solar energy concentrators for solar thermal plants offer better efficiency.

Solar thermal plants have been using solar concentrators for quite some time. Simply put, these systems focus the energy of the sun at one point in order to drive more heat, which powers a turbine to generate electricity. Stirling Energy Systems and Tessera Solar have unveiled new designs of their SunCatcher system, which reportedly offers better efficiency at a low cost.

The companies have developed four new models, which unlike previously designed models, are in the form of parabolic dishes. The SunCatchers being used today are capable of producing up to 15KW of grid-ready electrical power, but this new design can offer more because of its overall shape and the change in materials that are used to construct it.

The system is based on the use of precision mirrors that are attached to a parabolic dish. This dish focuses light onto a receiver, which transmit the heat to a Stirling engine. The engine is filled with hydrogen and utilizes the change in temperature of the gas to drive a turbine, which generates electricity.

This next-gen SunCatcher is about 5000lbs lighter than the original system and utilizes just 40 mirrors instead of the 80 that were used previously. This new technology will be deployed in some of the world’s largest solar plants in Southern California, which expect to produce about 1000MW of green electricity by 2012.

Via: ScienceDaily