Dishing Out Solar Energy
A new type of solar technology, boasting much higher rates of efficiency than the traditional solar panels, has been unveiled and tested, producing some promising results. The massive project, residing in South Africa’s Kalahari desert, may resemble something from a Sci-Fi movie but the intricate design has fielded a much needed breath of fresh air into commercial solar projects and has so far proved there could be a much better way of harvesting solar energy in areas with consistently bright sunshine.
How Does It Work?
The 100 square meter dish uses mirrors acting as lenses to focus the sun’s energy to hot-point. This then drives a zero emission engine, known as a Stirling engine. The technology for the Stirling engine, however, isn’t quite as new as the rest of the kit, with the first of it’s kind being implemented in 1816 as an alternative to the steam engine.
Independent testers from the U.K. have said that just one dish could provide enough energy to power 24 typical U.K. homes every year. However, due to the climates needed to reach that level of efficiency must have a high level of bright sunshine, it will be some time before we see the technology being used in the U.K. if at all. On average one dish can convert 34% of the Sun’s energy it captures into electricity whereas solar panels usually convert around 23%.
Could It Work In The UK?
With the testing completed and the design finalised the new technology has received it’s first private backing to install a large-scale system. However, until the technology has the application to work countries with less sunshine then Solar PV will still be the way forward.