Power an entire city

Sep 8th 2010 at 4:23 PM

Odeillo in the Pyrenees of France

A solar furnace is a structure used to harness the rays of the sun in order to produce high temperatures, usually for industry. This is achieved using a curved mirror (or an array of mirrors) that acts as a parabolic reflector, concentrating light (Insolation) onto a focal point. The temperature at the focal point may reach 3,000° C (5,430° F), and this heat can be used to generate electricity, melt steel, or make hydrogen fuel.


The term "solar furnace" has also evolved to refer to solar concentrator heating systems using parabolic mirrors or heliostats where 538° C (1,000° F) is now commonly achieved. The largest solar furnace in the world is at Odeillo in the Pyrenees of France, opened in 1970. It employs an array of plane mirrors to gather the rays of light from the sun, reflecting them on to a larger curved mirror. The rays are then focused onto an area the size of a cooking pot and can reach 3,000° C (5,430° F). In the deserts of the Southwest and in Florida and California, such furnaces could be used to drive steam turbines to create the electricity to add to the grid.

Madrid Spain, solar tower could eventually power an entire city

Recently we witnessed a gigantic skyscraper/solar tower hybrid that generates a whopping 390-kilowatts of energy, but even that looks like child’s play compared to the 40-story solar power plant that resides in Spain. The expansive system consists of a towering concrete building, a field of 600 (and growing) sun-tracking mirrors that are each 120-square meters in size, and a receiver that converts concentrated solar energy from the heliostats into steam that eventually drives the turbines. Currently, only one field of mirrors is up and running, but even that produces enough power to energize 6,000 homes or 11 megawatts, and when the reactor is fully operational, the creators are hoping to see the entire population of Seville (population: 600,000) taken care of solely from sunlight. This is truly the greenest power plant on Earth.


Imagine multiple solar towers in the deserts of the Southwest or in California, in the vacant areas of the swamps of Florida or the plains of Texas. All of these plants feeding pure, green electricity to the power grid while thermal solar tubes are being installed directly onto buildings and homes to reduce power draw from the grid.

Solar Heat Neckarsulm, Germany (Community Solar Engineering)

Since the beginning of the 1990s, the solar heating market in urban areas of Europe has been constantly growing, thanks mostly to large improvements in the quality and efficiency of the equipment available, as well as to the support policies that many countries are copying from Greece, Germany, and Austria. Subsequently, in the city of Neckarsulm (Baden-Württemberg), a new concept in heat procurement, based on distribution networks powered by solar energy, has been developed for the residential neighborhoods, Amorbach.


Situated along the banks of the Neckar River, among forest and vineyards, the city of Neckarsulm is the main city in Baden-Württemberg’s Heilbronn district, with 27,000 inhabitants. The arrival of the railway (1866) and the creation of a river port (1867) developed industrial activities (spinning, shipyards, production of pistons and two-wheelers) and economic growth in the city during the 20th century. Along with world-renowned industries such as Audi and Kolbenschmidt, many small and middle-sized companies were set up employing more than 20,000 people.


Convinced that it is impossible to reach holistic goals (such as reducing CO


emissions) without a strong commitment by the various players on a local level, at the end of the 1980s Neckarsulm Town Hall committed to a widespread campaign to promote and raise awareness of solar energy. Since July 1996, Neckarsulm has been offering financing to individuals who wish to invest in photovoltaic and solar heat facilities. This aid program was extended in February 2000 and now supports all measures aiming to improve energy efficiency in buildings – installing insulation and double glazing windows, as well as heat pumps or biomass boilers.

Please to comment
Sep 9th 2010 at 6:51 AM by JoniH007
I admire what you have to say and appreciate the way you say it!

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