The question of how solar power from the deserts of North Africa can be made even more marketable by lowering costs was one of the most important topics at the conference. “High-performance receivers like the ones Schott Solar supplies play a key role here,” explained the company in a recent press release. The receiver is the heart of solar power plants that rely on parabolic trough technology, and the more sunlight that is converted into heat, the more efficient the entire power plant will be.
“As a founding member of Dii, we are clearly interested in helping to make sure that our power supply will be both sustainable and affordable in the future. Supplying power with the help of solar power plants located in the desert would provide a rather promising way to achieve this, particularly because these have already been a reality for many years,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Schott AG.
Here, he is referring to power plants like Nevada Solar One in the United States and several different power plants in Spain that generate electricity for many thousands of households. In global terms, Schott Solar has already supplied more than 500,000 receivers for these and other projects. “As the market and technology leader, we are working diligently to develop new receiver concepts that will allow for electricity to be generated from the sun much more cost-effectively in the future. This will allow for solar power plants that use parabolic trough technology to be used all over the world on a large-scale basis, but also for the Desertec concept to be realized as planned,” Ungeheuer adds.
Higher efficiency, lower costs
Today, the design of Schott Solar’s receivers already sets standards with respect to its optical properties, efficiency and long-term stability. In order to increase efficiency even further, Schott Solar is pursuing two separate strategies. On the one hand, the company has developed receivers for use in larger solar collectors. On the other hand, the focus is on using new heat carriers. Today, receivers use oil that can be heated up to around 400ºC. In the future, solar fields will rely on new heat carriers that allow for the steam process to take place at temperatures of at least 500ºC and therefore be operated much more efficiently. Schott Solar has already developed prototypes that are already being field tested for all of these applications.
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