Sun Powered Electricity at Night: Myth or Reality?
Sun-powered electricity at competitive prices will soon become a reality. One of the largest developers of power plants in the region informs us about it. The solar plants are about to appear in the Middle East.
Paddy Padmanathan, a Chief Executive Officer of ACWA Power International, admits that his corporation is working on a 1$ billion project.
If they finish it, there will be an opportunity to feed electricity for 18 hours to the grid. First, they will use it for the Dubai Electricity Authority&Water.
After a while, Chinese companies will release equipment at a lower cost. That is why there will be more such plants.
How Does It Work?
There is a contract concluded for 25 years in Dubai. According to this, a two-decade-old technology will have a great popularity. They are called solar thermal.
Thermal plants don’t generate a charge from the power of the sun. They concentrate heat on water by using several mirrors. Then they turn it to steam that is important for driving a turbine.
Here you can read more about the solar water heater and the way it works.
We can use the heat not right away. It is possible because it can be stored in molten salt. This technology is rapidly gaining momentum and that’s why it is competitive.
The plant can work not only during the daytime. It is supposed to work at night too. It can save heat for some time. The energy of the sun can heat molten salt to about 490 degrees Celsius. That is why there is a possibility to know when electricity will start to flow. Now, this technology allows getting electricity through the all night.
What Do They Expect?
Today solar thermal plants costs are falling, but PV prices become lower too. You can get convinced in this fact comparing the leading solar panel companies. That is why it is very difficult to predict whether this new project will be so successful as they expected.
The plant is going to be finished by the 2021 year in Dubai. By that time, it is expected that batteries and solar PV will not differ in price.
As BNEF reports, there are only 5 gigawatts of solar thermal in the world. And there are about 320 gigawatts of photovoltaic panels. They reduced all the equipment costs by 70% in the 2010 year. The latest record – 2.45 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to the price of solar thermal that was 15 cents.
80% of the PV solar manufacturing industry is concentrated in China. This country has a great experience in mass production. It helps to make solar panels more popular and affordable. But work on thermal technology is reviving by different companies too.
Suppliers and Future Plans
Some of them may have not enough money to continue their work.
ACWA is a company, that has already built several very similar projects in Africa.
Two of the solar complexes are in Morocco and one more in South Africa – one of the leading countries in solar energy researches. They all are under development.
But today ACWA is looking for new opportunities to start some more projects in Africa. They are about to have power about 350 megawatts. And Paddy Padmanathan is going to build his solar complex in Saudi Arabia.