Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows greater potential for solar power

23.06.2014

Concentrating solar power (CSP) could supply a large fraction of the power supply in a decarbonized energy system, shows a new study of the technology and its potential practical application.

Concentrating solar power (CSP) could supply a substantial amount of current energy demand, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. In the Mediterranean region, for example, the study shows that a connected CSP system could provide 70-80% of current electricity demand, at no extra cost compared to gas-fired power plants. That percentage is similar to what a standard energy production plant, such as a nuclear plant, can provide.

“Solar energy systems can satisfy much more of our hunger for electricity, at not much more cost than what we currently have,” says Stefan Pfenninger, who led the study while working at IIASA. He is now a Research Postgraduate at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

The study was the first to examine the potential of CSP as a large-scale energy production system, in four regions around the world.

“In order to address climate change we need to greatly expand our use of renewable energy systems,” says IIASA researcher Fabian Wagner, who also worked on the study. “The key question, though, is how much energy renewable systems can actually deliver.”

One problem with deploying solar energy on a large scale is that the sun doesn’t shine all the time. That means that energy must be stored in some way. For photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, this is especially difficult to overcome, because electricity is difficult to store.

Unlike photovoltaic (PV) cells, CSP uses the sun’s energy to heat up a liquid that drives turbines. This means that the collected energy can be stored as heat, and converted to electricity only when needed. But even with CSP, if the sun doesn’t shine for long periods of time, the system may not be able to support large-scale energy needs.

One way to solve this problem is to build a large, connected network of CSP. Until now, however, nobody had explored the details and feasibility of such a plan. In the new study, the researchers simulated the construction and operation of CSP systems in four regions around the world, taking into account weather variations, plant locations, electricity demand, and costs.

“Our study is the first to look closely at whether it’s possible to build a power system based primarily on solar energy, and still provide reliable electricity to consumers around the clock, every day of the year. We find this to be possible in two world regions, the Mediterranean basin and the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa,” says study co-author Anthony Patt, Professor of Human-Environment Systems, ETH Zurich Department of Environmental Systems Science, and an IIASA guest research scholar.

Reference
Pfenninger S, Gauche P, Lilliestam J, Damerau K, Wagner F, Patt A. (2014). The potential for concentrating solar power to provide baseload and dispatchable power. Nature Climate Change. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2276

For more information contact:

Stefan Pfenninger
Research Postgraduate
Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grantham Institute, Imperial College
+44 (0)20 7594 6018
s.pfenninger12@imperial.ac.uk

Fabian Wagner
Senior Research Scholar
Mitigation of Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases
+43(0) 2236 807 565
wagnerf@iiasa.ac.at

Katherine Leitzell
IIASA Press Office
Tel: +43 2236 807 316
Mob: +43 676 83 807 316
leitzell@iiasa.ac.at

About IIASA:
IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policy makers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by scientific institutions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe. www.iiasa.ac.at

Katherine Leitzell | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Analysis CSP Climate Environmental IIASA Mediterranean electricity heat

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Energy from Sunlight: Further Steps towards Artificial Photosynthesis
24.06.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht World's first 1,000-processor chip
20.06.2016 | University of California - Davis

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena

Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics. In the journal Nature, Rainer Blatt‘s and Peter Zoller’s research teams describe how they simulated the creation of elementary particle pairs out of the vacuum by using a quantum computer.

Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The...

Im Focus: Is There Life On Mars?

Survivalist back from Space - 18 months on the outer skin of the ISS

A year and a half on the outer wall of the International Space Station ISS in altitude of 400 kilometers is a real challenge. Whether a primordial bacterium...

Im Focus: CWRU physicists deploy magnetic vortex to control electron spin

Potential technology for quantum computing, keener sensors

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed a way to swiftly and precisely control electron spins at room temperature.

Im Focus: Physicists measured something new in the radioactive decay of neutrons

The experiment inspired theorists; future ones could reveal new physics

A physics experiment performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has enhanced scientists' understanding of how free neutrons decay...

Im Focus: Discovery of gold nanocluster 'double' hints at other shape changing particles

New analysis approach brings two unique atomic structures into focus

Chemically the same, graphite and diamonds are as physically distinct as two minerals can be, one opaque and soft, the other translucent and hard. What makes...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ERES 2016: The largest conference in the European real estate industry

09.06.2016 | Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool'

24.06.2016 | Materials Sciences

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler'

24.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune

24.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>