Solar Power

Solar Power Plants – Benefits and Constraints

Harnessing sun radiation to generate electricity is an evolutionary process that is accelerating. Electricity is the most flexible and convenient form of energy to use.

We can consider Electrical Power Systems as a network with generation nodes (power plants), long haul transmission lines (Super High Voltage Power Lines) and distribution lines (the lines that feed homes and business enterprises).

Solar Energy main advantage is that it is clean and renewable.

There are 3 constraints though that limit the growth pace of Solar Power Plants production capacity:

1. The Capital Investment in solar power plant per 1MW (megawatt) production capacity is still higher than the cost of other power plants, leading to higher price to the consumer

2. Solar Power Plants require a relatively larger land and sunny areas; Naturally deserts and arid areas are most suitable. Deserts however are remote from the dense population areas. This lead to the necessity to run new Super High Voltage Power Lines, not a trivial project because of environmental objections and regulatory processes.

3. Solar radiations is intermittent and available only during the day; Electricity storage technology is not well developed.

The remedies are:

1. Prices of solar power plants are going down with improved technologies and larger scale plants.

2. Build smaller community size clean energy plants closer to the consumers and encourage residential solar power systems.

3. Develop better technologies to store energy.

The existing storage technologies don’t store electricity; they convert electricity to other energy type during the day and convert it back during night to electricity

To name a few:

1. Use heat to melt salt during the day and use the melted salt to heat water to high pressure steam that will run the steam turbine over night.

2. Pump water up hill during the day and run the water down hill over night to drive an hydro turbine (An existing dam can be used).

Jacob Mintz

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