Scientists at the Australian National University announced that they have set a world record for efficiency for a solar thermal dish generating steam that could be used in power stations according to an Achrnews report.
The ANU team said they designed and built a new receiver for the solar concentrator dish at the Australian National University, making the losses go down to half and achieving a 97% conversion of sunlight into steam. This breakthrough could lead to the generation of more affordable base-load electricity from renewable energy and help in lowering carbon emissions.
According to Dr. John Pryce of the ANU research School of Engineering, their computer model told them that their design was going to achieve a very high-efficiency rate. But when they built and tested it, the performance was even more amazing than expected.
This is how the system works: concentrating solar thermal systems use reflectors to concentrate sunlight and generate steam. The steam then drives conventional power turbines to produce electricity. It can also be combined with potent heat storage systems and can supply electricity on demand at a much lower cost as compared to energy harnessed from solar PVs that have been stored in batteries.
The Australian National University research School of Engineering is part of a bigger group of scientists that works in the field of renewable energy and is funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Dr. Pye said that their ultimate goal for the project is to reduce the cost of concentrating solar thermal energy. Their aim is to get the cost down to $0.12/kWh of electricity. The new design could result in a 10% reduction in the cost of solar thermal electricity.
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