[GWSG] Stirling project; solar costs; FPL hybrid; EAIS low; SE drought; neat English cars

Tilley, Al atilley at unf.edu
Sat Jul 3 09:05:20 EDT 2010

The news list will be on hiatus for the next week.

1.  The Maricopa project outside Phoenix is a 1.5 megawatt pilot for Stirling solar power installations in the next few months in California and Texas which will total over 1500 megawatts.  This video includes an explanation of the Stirling heat engines and the information that the only water they use is for cleaning.  It is also true that they do not require level ground or any other site considerations save sunlight, use no exotic materials, are fairly benign environmentally, and are competitively efficient in converting sunlight to energy.  They have a more generous power curve than standard photovoltaic installations.  On the other hand, they have had cost and maintenance problems, and have the storage and safety problems attendant on any process using hydrogen.  Stirling Energy Systems is now 52% controlled by Irish investors.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/video/project-profile-stirlings-maricopa-solar-pilot-plant?cmpid=WNL-Friday-June25-2010  More on the Maricopa project and the planned near-term installations:  http://www.srpnet.com/environment/solar/maricopasolar.aspx  An article from Scientific American giving some of the challenges and promises of the project and of Stirling engines in general:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-engines-the-future-of-solar-power

2.   You can say that solar power costs $.40 per kilowatt-hour and not be lying, and you can also say it costs $.10/kwh and be right.  It depends on where you are, what technology you use, and what profit margin is included.  This little article describes present solar energy costs.  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2010/06/solar-photovoltaics-pv-is-cost-competitive-now?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-June30-2010  Pike Research projects an annual growth rate of 24% for solar for the next few years, and grid parity with fossil fuels by 2013 (that is, solar power will be as cheap as power from fossil fuels—as it already has been in a few cases, such as a couple of First Solar’s thin film installations).  http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/07/pike-solar-to-hit-grid-parity-by-2013?cmpid=WNL-Friday-July2-2010

3.  This story provides more detail on FPL’s hybrid natural gas-low temperature concentrating solar thermal power plant near Lake Okeechobee.  It is the second largest solar installation in the world at 75 megawatts, but soon to be eclipsed by the Stirling installations in item 1.  (Florida Power and Light is changing its name to Next Era Energy.)  http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-fla-mirror-solar-plant-20100601,0,7298705.story

4.  We have known since the GRACE satellite measurements that the East Antarctic was losing mass (though less than the West Antarctic or Greenland).  A Science article reports the news that large areas of the East Antarctic are well below sea level (up to 2000 meters below, in fact), and some historical evidence indicates that the East will contribute to sea level rise under projected greenhouse gas conditions for this century.  The rise will take centuries more to develop fully, but existing models will need to be modified.  http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/328/5986/1630

5.  Either we have greatly underestimated the impact of climate change on the American Southwest, or a megadrought is superimposing itself on the expected pace of desertification of the area.  In either case we need to prepare for dry times.  (Science) http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/328/5986/1642

6.   The English get to buy cars from Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen, Citroen, and others which get gas mileages ranging from about 70 to 89 mpg (with low emissions to match).  Imperial gallons; US equivalents would be 58-74 mpg, and then you get to take off around a fifth for ethanol.  We could still use the cars.    http://www.whatgreencar.com/green-car-of-the-year-2010.php#aw

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