Sinking revenues and shrinking policy support may be causing a bit of a haze on the renewable energy horizon, but there's plenty of sunshine trying to peek through if you look hard enough.
There’s no doubt that everything from solar to biofuels are under assault from legislative halls to the comment boards. And while there are still gains being made, they’re not always evident.
As the renewable energy industry faces another tumultuous week with hearings on Capitol Hill, a highly awaiting trade ruling by the Department of Commerce and intense debate across Europe, we thought we'd spend the day wrestling up some of the other developments that could bear fruit once the clouds pass.
Concentrating solar power (CSP) has struggled to keep up with the rapidly falling prices of PV, making the technology a hard sell to investors.
But what if CSP could find cost gains that increased capacity, cut costs and made it more competitive on price with PV? That’s the hopes for 3M’s Renewable Energy Division and Gossamer Space Frames, which have teamed up to design a parabolic trough technology that they say sets a world benchmark for solar concentration and could ultimately reduce the installed cost by 25 percent. The companies say they achieve the new highs in capacity and new lows in costs by combining 3M’s Solar Mirror Film 1100 with the designs of Gossamer Space Frames.
The demonstration facility is fully operational in Daggett, Calif., at the Sunray Energy facility, which is owned and operated by Cogentrix Energy.
The new system, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony in early April, began operating in October 2011 and provides a peak of approximately 275 kw of electricity. A second project using the system design is underway in a separate location and project commissioning is scheduled for June.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has verified performance of the system, measuring an optical accuracy of more than 99 percent.
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