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Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Infinity
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Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

For the first time ever scientists have managed to use the sun's rays to create the same energy that is currently produced in coal or gas fired power stations.
The breakthrough in Australia means one day the sun could compete with fossil fuels to provide our energy needs.
Using solar energy, scientists have reached temperatures and pressures never before achieved to create "supercritical steam".

http://news.sky.com/story/1299972/australia-critical-steam-solar-breakthrough
39 REPLIES
nanotm
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

good news, certainly there in one of not many countries where such technology would be useful all year round ...

there was a similar project on the edge of the Spanish desert about a decade ago using liquid salt, and another a couple of years ago using mineral oil in Nevada (although that was slightly different) but they all used a heat tower and concentrators,

me personally I'd love to see fossil fuel reliance disappear in all parts of life but give the transmission losses I cant see tech like this being able to replace more traditional power stations until we figure out a new transport medium for it as these solar arrays aren't much use in winter in the EU where the sun barely shines ....
just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you
WTF
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Cracking the energy storage issue is the key.
There seem to be radical advances in solar tech every other week and it is already almost at price parity with coal - even when you continue to articificially lower the cost of coal by ignoring all the health, environment, climate and other costs associated with it - not to mention the subsidies coal gets that are invariably ignored by the very people who bang on about subsidies for 'green' energy.
These advances ought to radically alter the climate change debate as the basic argument - current dirty tech is cheap - will be completely undermined.  Of course it won't: the climate change deniers will simply increase the lies and amplify the rhetoric: they have too much money to lose.
nanotm
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

storage tech is improving though and the new vanadium based batteries have proven they are capable of storing a lot of energy, there are other forms of storage that are just as bulky and have the same reliability (many years of use) but the real problem seems to be transmission of longer distances without massive losses being incurred.
regardless of the arguments for ditching dirty fuels (I don't believe the arguments of the climate change lobby because so many have been proven wrong) I personally believe the best argument for it is health, benzene based compounds cause more diseases and deaths than any other pollutant yet are in use pretty much everywhere for everything from transport to manufacturing to power generation to medicine..... all because a few rich people want to be richer and screw the rest of the world ......
just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Long distance power transmission is achieved by converting to DC, which minimizes inductive losses. There are resistive losses obviously but HVDC minimises that. You'll never remove losses completely.
You give me the impression that you are a very bitter person!
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

I'm concerned that these headline grabbers don't address the issue if integrating all these various forms of energy into a working grid. A solar based energy derivative needs energy storage or balancing with other sources such as hydro, wave or biomass.
The engineering fraternity who gave us our current working system did think about such things an they should be be derided as the source of our problems. They solved the problems of their day and today engineers if given a correct brief would do the same.
We IMHO have to many "scientists" with not enough practical nounce to define the whole system rather than headline grabbing "one offs"
Or maybe it's the media  Undecided
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Grafter
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Quote from: PeterLoftus
I'm concerned that these headline grabbers don't address the issue if integrating all these various forms of energy into a working grid. A solar based energy derivative needs energy storage or balancing with other sources such as hydro, wave or biomass

Actually, research like this precisely addresses these issue as they're all about storing the energy/electricity generated by renewables until it is required, e.g. storing solar energy for use overnight.
The idea that the promoters of clean energy aren't doing anything to address these problems is simple propoganda by the old-style fuel companies.  There are any number of approaches being investigated from pumping water uphill to these heat storage-related methods.  What's more, many are looking promising.  A power production revolution is right around the corner: expect the counter-revolutionaries to be fighting hard Wink
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

The base load in the UK (ie the load below which demand is more or less constant) is somewhere around 20GW. This means that 20GW worth of energy must be generated constantly to satisfy this demand. Our present power system was developed in the 1950s and early 1960s, when all the very large power plant was built. This period was a time of rebuilding after the war and there was a political push to get the UK on its feet again. To blame the engineering fraternity is wrong.
Quote
The engineering fraternity who gave us our current working system did think about such things an they should be be derided as the source of our problem

In those days the plentiful supply of power was considered something to be sought after; nuclear energy was the next best thing to sliced bread! There were no practical materials which could act as solar collectors, and if coal was so plentiful, why not burn it? Electricity was known as coal-by-wire. And how else to satisfy the growing base load?
These days the base load still needs to be generated. You won't get that from any number of 5MW wind turbines or 2kW solar panels, even if the wind blew constantly and sun always shone. If we don't want to burn coal then nuclear power in some form has to be the answer, either fission using relatively safe thorium, or fusion, which is still some way away.
Either that or keep on burning coal, especially as some people say CO2 emissions aren't a problem anyway.  Tongue
nanotm
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

better to burn biomass as its giving off the same co2 but less of the other harmful stuff like benzoates, and of course it wont run out as its always being made Smiley
the old way actually worked /is working so anything that replaces it must do the same job in a similar way and achieve the same end result, if its cheaper on day to day but more expensive in the initial build so be it, so long as there is the required power generation and its done in an ecologically friendly way with prices roughly the same or lower than today's then to me it doesn't really matter what bits of technology are used to do the job just that its done
just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Quote from: nanotm
better to burn biomass as its giving off the same co2 but less of the other harmful stuff like benzoates, and of course it wont run out as its always being made Smiley

Huh
Do you even know what benzoates are?
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Quote
but less of the other harmful stuff like benzoates 

I thought benzoates are a food preservative!
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

Indeed...widely found in the food and drink industry.
nanotm
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

aside from harmful what else is there to know ? https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=sodium+benzoate+linked+to+cancer
just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

The facts? Maybe they are dangerous (maybe) but not by burning them!
nanotm
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Re: Australia: 'Critical Steam' Solar Breakthrough

sodium benzoate combined with potassium benzoate form benzene a carcinogen that is found in dangerous levels in denatured products (those that have been on the shelf for a while) and benzene production levels increase if you introduce heat to the product at low levels for prolonged periods ....so all those preservative filled time bombs on the shop shelf in sunlight are literally killing people by inducing cancer just like inhaling lungful's of benzene filled smoke from tobacco and vehicle emissions, never mind all the other hydrocarbon based products that induce nasty diseases such as blood disorders, lung disorders, vision problems and general shortening of life
just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you