Solar Turbine Breakthroughs

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Marcin Jakubowski

Dec 3, 2008, 10:32:23 AM12/3/08


In a historic convergence of early December, 2008 - Solar Turbine work of OSE merged with a UK linear concentrator development team. The UK team is led by a team of Ph.D.s, with former consulting experience to leading solar concentrator companies.

Both teams have arrived at essentially the identical design, down to critical details - for a breakthrough, low cost solar concentrator system. Two versions will be field tested - one with steam power, and another with PV power. As it stands, Factor e Farm will adapt and replicate the exsiting prototype. Any necessary sourcing adjustments will be made. We will be building upon 6 years of past work of the UK team, in the true spirit of open source collaboration.

The UK team has verified the OSE prediction that low complexity, flat mirror arrays, which are low to the ground and eliminate costly wind load-bearing structures - are the most cost effective option. The UK team is making several contributions:

  • Electronics and mechanical drive has been worked out for controlling individual mirror slats instead of gangs of slats (the latter is also protected by patent) at a cost of about $5 per drive unit.
  • Closed-loop (feedback) controls have been worked out for solar tracking at a cost of $15 for a tracking detector
  • Control software has been written

Field testing will be performed in the south of France, as a joint project between OSE and the UK. This will mark a historical, side-by-side comparison of two systems - steam engine and PV systems. Both are calculated to be cheaper than coal power. Breakthroughs are expected in both systems, and the OSE team predicts approximately 30% lower system cost for the steam engine version, on a small, 3 kW prototype. Scaling is expected to be favorable for steam power in larger systems. The PV system offers the advantage of being more economical on a small scale (1 kW and under). Modularity is expected in 1-10 kW units.

We will also be doing field testing and implementation at Factor e Farm - so stay tuned for this historical opportunity.

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