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Factoid: The Powerful Force of Solar Energy

January 4, 2019

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Happening currently, in a galaxy not so far away, is solar energy innovation. While solar energy is an expanding filed, its usage is low compared to fossil fuels. Solar accounts for 2% and fossil 60% of US power, respectively. Limitations for solar power include storage costs and accessibility to sunlight. However, recent developments may further enhance solar power’s capacity.

According to a recent ScienceDaily article, collaborations between Purdue University, Georgia Tech, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new material that boosts solar power’s conversion into heat energy. Most photovoltaics generate power by directly converting solar energy into electricity, but solar to heat energy is another promising option.

Heat energy is created by directing several panels towards a cache of molten salt, which then transfers the stored heat to supercritical CO2, which spins a turbine. To make the turbines handle more heat, and spin more, developers changed the materials from stainless steel and nickel alloy to a ceramic/metal composite.  Not only do these composites handle higher heat and pressure, the scaling costs are expected to be lower. In addition, such plants can store the heat energy for use overnight, a huge benefit.

It appears cutting-edge solar technology is not limited to those pesky TIE fighters!

Source: New material, manufacturing process use sun’s heat for cheaper renewable electricity

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Luthin Associates

Written by Luthin Associates

Founded in 1994, Luthin Associates provides energy advisory services to all industry sectors in the New York Tri-state region and beyond. In 2019, Luthin Associates joined forces with 5, an innovative energy advisory firm comprised of energy innovators, commodity traders, analysts, engineers, and former energy supplier executives. As part of the 5 family of companies, Luthin Associates provides strategic advice on energy-related matters including procurement, demand-side management, rate optimization, regulatory intervention, benchmarking, bill auditing, RFP management, sustainability planning services, renewable power, and distributed generation.