Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Solar Tower In Desert Promotes Israel's Renewable Energy Drive

A tall tower looms over the desert of southern Israel. But it is no ordinary tower--its builders expect it to make solar energy much more affordable.

The tower is built by Israel-based Megalim Solar Power, whose shareholders include General Electric. It will be taller than other towers and will be able to generate up to 121 megawatts of power. It is expected to provide 1% of Israel's electricity, with hopes to increase that number to 10% by 2020.

Most of the world's solar power comes from panels that are installed onto rooftops. Towers use a more concentrated solar power, but require a lot of land, which makes them less cost effective unless they are used in large scale projects.

Megalim's tower is surrounded by 50,000 computer controlled mirrors to project the sun's rays. These mirrors are controlled over a dedicated WiFi network, as opposed to the usual more expensive cable that has been used in the past.

"We're making strides in efficiency, we're making strides in compressing the time of construction," said Megalim's Chief Executive Eran Gartner. "We're going down a learning curve that will help us to offer solar energy at the most competitive rates."

Megalim's tower in Israel will generate heat of up to 540 degrees Celsius (1,000 Fahrenheit), producing steam to power a turbine. It will be unable to store energy but has overcome another problem that beset solar towers--whether or not power towers were killing large numbers of birds.

Biologists determined that bird deaths at previous towers (made by another company with another technology) were lower than previously thought but the public outcry from the perceived large number of bird deaths led to cancellations of further towers so overcoming this obstacle was crucial for the success of Megalim's project.

Read more about it here.

Off to enjoy a little sunshine of my own, till next time!


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