Solar concentrators – dreams of renewable electricity and a new grab for desert land

Virtually all of the electricity that we use involves turbines, which are sophisticated plumbing devices. Usually the turbine is wound up by a heat process most often burning gas, oil, or coal to heat water into steam to drive the turbine. Nuclear energy does not involve burning but still heats water into steam. If you live or play in Las Vegas the electricity that makes the city possible comes from the massive turbines of the Hoover Dam.

Photovoltaic cells have heat process and no turbines for their electric generation, but these are very small producers of electrical energy compared with gas, oil, coal and nuclear energy and are presently expensive because they need a great deal of energy to produce current, so that their lifetime emission is around 58 grams per kWh compared with 900 or more for coal and around 2 for nuclear power.

However there is another way to use turbines and their associated plumbing using sunshine to heat water into steam for creating large scale electricity. Continue reading