Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ausra Goes Viva Las Vegas with Solar Thermal Power Factory

"Ausra develops and deploys utility-scale solar thermal power technology to serve global electricity needs in a dependable, market-competitive, environmentally responsible manner....Ausra's core technology, the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar collector and steam generation system, was originally conceived in the early 1990s at Sydney University. It was first commercialized by Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd. in 2004 in Australia and is now being refined and built at large scale by Ausra around the world." They have opened a production plant in Las Vegas. At the plant they will produce reflectors, absorber tubes and other key components they use to build solar thermal power plants. They plan to service the "rapidly growing Southwestern solar power industry".. the Southwest U.S. has a lot of sunlight, a lot of heat, and very few people.

In November 2007, Ausra and California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)announced a power purchase agreement for a 177-megawatt solar thermal power plant to be built in central California. The power plant will generate enough electricity to power more than 120,000 homes.

The new factory will make solar field equipment for the PG&E project,for other power projects throughout the American Southwest, and for Ausra's process steam customers, who are adopting solar thermal power to lower their fuel costs and emissions in their operations, including food processing, enhanced oil recovery and refining, and pulp and paper manufacturing. At full capacity, it will annually produce more than 700 megawatts of solar collectors – enough to power nearly half a million homes, and keep 1,400 construction workers employed building solar power plants.

The technology works by focusing sunlight using a zillion reflectors. The light is focused on a central heat collector that vaporises water, using the steam to drive turbines to generate electricity. The steam is recollected as water again to form a closed loop.

They publish a series of reports:

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