The PS10 Tower: The Future of Energy Generation?

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

Just outside of the city of Seville in Spain, one can see a monolith that largely resembles something from the Lord of the Rings. A huge, towering eye stands a 115 meter high tower, looking out over a sea of large, shiny reflective objects. To the innocent bystander it is an odd, or even alarming sight, but what is happening in this small corner of Spain could indeed be the future of energy.

The monolith is in fact a PS10 tower, a technical name for what is essentially a huge solar panel. Like many solar panels, it gathers the sun’s heat and boils water to create steam; this, in turn, creates electricity, which can then be used to power anything from a small town to the oven in your kitchen.

What makes the PS10 Tower different, however, is that it does not just receive sunlight directly from the sun. While it would be effective in doing so, the PS10 Tower looks out over 624 movable mirrors, known as heliostats, all of which are positioned to shine the sun’s rays directly onto the solar panels atop the tower.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is – but essentially, what the PS10 Tower generates in power which then becomes electricity is 624 times more powerful than your average solar panel. Thanks to the heliostats bouncing the sun’s rays directly on to its receiving panels, the PS10 is able to create steam to drive a generator at a rate previously unheard of for solar technology.

What’s more, the experiment has proved so successful that a second tower and second bed of heliostats – the PS20 Tower – has now been built. The Spanish have capitalized on their natural resource – blinding sunlight – and used it to create electricity. Even more excitingly, it works. So is are the PS10 and PS20 towers the future of solar energy? They just might be.

An Introduction To Solar Power

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Wind And Solar Energy

We hear a lot about so-called renewable energy in the modern world. As the effects of global warming – or climate change, depending on your preferred terminology – become more apparent, the need to find a way to generate energy without damaging the Earth becomes all the more important.

One of the most talked about methods of making energy is solar power. As the name would suggest, solar power involves taking the energy of the sun and using that energy to generate electricity on Earth. While solar power is not a new concept, it is nevertheless looking like it will receive much focus during the search for renewable energies.

Solar power works by concentrating the heat of the sun in a specific place. To do this, solar panels or heliostats are erected in the sun’s glare, where they capture heat. The surfaces of these panels are usually mirrored or shiny, so as to increase the already potent heat of the sun. This heat is then used to generate electricity through a variety of methods; the most common of these is to use the heat to boil water and general steam, which is then used to power a traditional electricity generator.

Solar power is not infallible as a technology, but it is more reliable than was first previously thought. Despite popular conviction, it is possible to generate electricity using solar panels on overcast days, which opens the technologies up to most countries. For solar power to be truly effective, however, the panels need to be placed where they receive continual sunlight and heat throughout the year. For this reasons, countries such as Spain are becoming the pioneers of solar power – though their scientific advances will eventually benefit us all.