Just to spread a little Thai solar info...
I have dealt with a company called ECC care based in Chonburi (Environmental Competence Centre).
Their main work is purifying nasty solvents for recycling and reuse. They do an eco training day for schools or businesses which is how I came to be working with them.
BUT as well as a full-size wind turbine they have a concentrating solar facility. It has 3 or 4 parabolic troughs of about 10 x 2m. They are remarkable in that they use cheap-as-chips moulded fibre-glass units bolted together and covered with plastic mirror board and a few diagonal steady cables. These supply a mysterious engine- once I was told it was a unique invention by the companies boss and had no moving parts and hit 60% efficiency (A thermoacoustic stirling might fit that description, but 60% just about exceeds Carnot efficiency so I'm sceptical. It should require a dish to get hot enough to achieve that figure; troughs aren't hot enough). On another visit a year or two later it had become a 'steam engine'. The heat collector tubes are very small (dia. 25mm?). They claim the unit is commercially available from them if you want to buy one. From the top of my head they claimed 100kW peak output and were asking 100,000 Euros (about 4,750,556.11 THB).
But something's suspicious: Over three visits the unit has never been running and indeed was parked, mirrors down at the same angle over the course of several years between visits. I don't think it's ever used. An extreme pity as it would be the most inspirational sight for the school kids who visit. I took NASA insolation data for the site, multiplied by the collector area and allowed them an efficiency of about 30%. I then found the price paid by the Thai government for solar (8 baht per kWh).
The pay back time was in a matter of a few years. I contacted them with this info and the Thai govt. website to bring distributed power onto the grid and asked if they would like to connect and could I come and see the engine running? No reply.
(Just checked their site and seen different figures again)
If they really can knock these units out at the price and performance claimed surely with a bit of marketing every factory owner and many private individuals in the country would want one?
I have long felt that the solar solution should be to ditch NASA levels of tech and certainly to abandon Photovoltaics until the price drops by 80%. The answer is to make concentrating units (mirrors) as cheap and scruffy as is necessary to make them economical. I've built accurate parabolic troughs with school kids. A sheet of bendy mirror board, some scrap timber a tape measure and a pocket calculator hits the spot. Phillips made portable stirling engine generators in the 50s at affordable prices. They need have little more technology or cost than a lawnmower engine.
ECC seemed to be approaching the ideal I'd dreamed of but are sat on their knowledge.
Go on; someone rowst 'em up and buy one and publicise it. I dare ya!
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If you paid attention to what went in to the process of manufacturing for all the components, be it photo-voltaic or wind or hydro, you wouldn't call it environmentally friendly
Metals - strip mining.
Plastics - oil.
Solar Cells and other electronic components - toxic chemical process.
Fiberglass and epoxies are technically toxic.
And none of that is really renewable, is it ?
But I digressed.
Except for passive solar (building) designs and hot water heating,
solar takes up too much money and space for what part time power it provides.
The mirrors or panels must be constantly cleaned or the efficiency degrades.
Doesn't work when it's cloudy, doesn't work when it rains or snow, or blowing sand/dust.
It's expensive to start up and ROI takes 20 years or more, often times never.
Great for places with a lot of unusable space and not much cloud, rain, or sand/dust storm.
Not that I don't like the technology or anything.
I'm just saying that solar has inherent issues that may never be resolved no matter how much tax money is thrown at it.
One spring weekend 2 years ago I went to Doi Chieng Dao.
A beautiful place with the view of an entire valley below, trees a blooming, flowers everywhere.
There was a small solar array feeding a battery bank and inverter to power the park facility at the top.
At this elevation, the fog often envelopes everything until noon.
We pitched our tents and, after dinner, all of us were having a rather pleasant evening snoring away until....
at Zero effing dark hundred, in the dead silence of the effing night, the god effing loud enough to wake the effing dead 'battery bank voltage is low' alarm went off and stayed on until someone shut it off around 8 AM.
Good thing I took my iPod along.
Nobody else got any sleep however.
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Chine (yup) sent a team to Oak Ridge and copied the existing files from the previous reactor and research. They will have first plants online in less than 5 years.
With wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, you have to put the plant where the source is, then power lines to where the users are. Line loss 10%. LFTR can be small plants near the users.' Nuff said
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