Saskatoon company claims solar energy breakthrough

SHEC says its Concentrated Solar Power system lowers thermal solar generating costs to six cents per kilowatt-hour.

Comments Off on Saskatoon company claims solar energy breakthrough May 17, 2012
by Design Engineering

Saskatoon – Tom Beck, president of SHEC Energy Corporation, says his company has achieved a breakthrough in solar thermal energy that reduces the cost of the technology by about 75 per cent, making it competitive with the lowest-cost fossil fuels.

According to the company, solar power produced by existing concentrating solar power systems (CSP) costs around $0.13 to $0.20 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). By contrast, Beck says SHEC Energy’s technology can reduce that cost to between $0.06 and $0.08 per kWh.

“That’s only slightly more than coal, which is among the least expensive of the fossil fuels,”’ he says. “And it comes without the pollution and negative health effects you get when burning fossil fuels, and it’s far less costly than nuclear power, with all its long term radioactive waste issues.”

Unlike photovoltaic (PV) systems that convert light to electricity, concentrating solar power systems (CSP) — like SHEC Energy’s — produce power by concentrating sunlight to generate high temperature (850°C) heat. This heat is then used to boil water to make steam to turn a turbine. In addition, the heat can also be stored in a granular storage material making available to produce power 24 hours a day, except in prolonged cloudy conditions.

Traditionally typical CSP systems have been held back by the solar field’s high deployment costs, which consists of hundreds or thousands of solar concentrators. According to SHEC, its proprietary CSP system introduces technology that lowers the cost of the solar field and increases the efficiency of thermal energy storage.

“Now we finally have a clean, renewable and economically viable solution to our energy needs,” says Beck.