Future360 heads to Lancaster, California, to witness the awesome power of concentrating solar power. We check out eSolar's innovative solar thermal power tower, the Sierra SunTower.
While much solar attention is focused on photovoltaics, the lesser known solar thermal technology is in the midst of a revival. The opening of Torresol's Gemsolar plant in Spain -- the first commercial-scale plant in the world to apply central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology -- and exciting new developments in the US, are putting the spotlight back on this powerful technology.
Headquartered in Burbank, California, eSolar is helping the solar thermal generate steam with its concentrating solar plant, the Sierra SunTower, located in Lancaster, California.
The plant consists of two modules, which sits across 20 acres. It's 24,000 sun-tracking mirrors or heliostats reflect solar heat to two thermal receivers, which are mounted on top of central power towers. Piping steam through a turbine to a power generator results in 5mws of clean, renewable energy -- enough to power 2000 homes in the Lancaster area.
eSolar is different from other CSP technologies because of it's low-cost, pre-fabricated heliostats and its modular field layout which allows modules to be deployed like building blocks to quickly reach utility scale power generation. This caught of the attention of energy giant, General Electric, with whom they will be partnering with for the creation of an integrated gas combined cycle plant in Turkey. www.esolar.com