California is about to start construction of two new solar power plants that will make any existing project look like child's play.
To be set up in the Mojave dessert, one plant is set to generate 500 megawatts of energy and a second one 300 megawatts. A coal or gas powered plant typically generates 500 to 1000 megawatts. Current generation solar farms using photovoltaic cells only get to 35 to 80 megawatts.
The new plants will use mirrors to direct sunlight to a so-called Stirling Engine. The engine has a reservoir filled with hydrogen that will expand due to the heat from the mirrors. The expansion will drive pistons generating electricity.
The 500 megawatt generator will feature 20,000 dishes (a set of mirrors) – each with its own Stirling engine - spread out over an area of 4,500 acres (18.2 square kilometres). That might not look very pretty, but anything that reduces the world's dependency on foreign oil and in the process might diffuse any terrorist threats (oil funds have largely funded terrorist activities over the past decades) has my vote. Flash animation: Sterling Energy Systems
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