8 January 2004 Low-cost distributed solar-thermal-electric power generation
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Abstract
Due to their high relative cost, solar electric energy systems have yet to be exploited on a widespread basis. It is believed in the energy community that a technology similar to photovoltaic (PV), but offered at about $1/W would lead to widespread deployment at residential and commercial sites. This paper addresses the investigation and feasibility study of a low-cost solar thermal electricity generation technology, suitable for distributed deployment. Specifically, we discuss a system based on nonimaging solar concentrators, integrated with free-piston Stirling engine devices incorporating integrated electric generation. We target concentrator-collector operation at moderate temperatures, in the range of 125°C to 150°C. This temperature is consistent with use of optical concentrators with concentration ratios on the order of 1-2. These low ratio concentrators admit wide angles of radiation acceptance and are thus compatible with no diurnal tracking, and no or only a few seasonal adjustments. Thus, costs and reliability hazards associated with tracking hardware systems are avoided. Further, we note that in the intended application, there is no shortage of incident solar energy, but rather it is the capital cost of the solar-electric system that is most precious. Thus, we outline a strategy for exploiting solar resources in a cost constrained manner. The paper outlines design issues, and a specific design for an appropriately dimensioned free-piston Stirling engine. Only standard low-cost materials and manufacturing methods are required to realize such a machine.
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Artin Der Minassians, Artin Der Minassians, Konrad H. Aschenbach, Konrad H. Aschenbach, Seth R. Sanders, Seth R. Sanders, "Low-cost distributed solar-thermal-electric power generation", Proc. SPIE 5185, Nonimaging Optics: Maximum Efficiency Light Transfer VII, (8 January 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.509785; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.509785
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