Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Future Solar Power

If things go according to plan, construction on a giant solar tower could begin in Australia in 2006. The 3,280-foot tall tower will be surrounded by a vast greenhouse that will heat air to drive turbines around the base of the tower. It is estimated that the power station will be able to generate 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 households.

Solar energy requires no additional fuel to run and is pollution free. Sunlight can be captured as usable heat or converted into electricity using solar, or photoelectric, cells or through synchronized mirrors known as heliostats that track the sunes movement across the sky. Scientists have also developed methods for using solar power to replace a gas-powered engine by heating hydrogen gas in a tank, which expands to drive pistons and power a generator.

Drawbacks of solar energy include high initial cost, and the need for large spaces. Also, for most solar energy alternatives, productivity is subject to the whims of air pollution and weather, which can block sunlight.

No comments: