I suppose that despite my better judgement I am a technological utopian. I still hope that somehow we can get it together to invent and engineer our way out of the energy mess we have created by our addiction to the intense energy ‘high’ that only fossil fuels can provide. And the other day I read something that gave me a little bit of hope. Let me share it with you…
I read that among the billions of dollars given to banks and bankers, the Obama administration had granted a $737 million loan guarantee to Solar Reserve to build a solar thermal generation plant near Las Vegas, generating solar energy 24 hours a day if necessary. The key trick is the use of molten salts to store thermal energy at high temperature and then release the energy to generate steam and electricity when required. Apparently the key problems envisaged involve coping with the corrosion caused by the molten salt.
There are many small and medium size solar thermal schemes around. But the fact that this looks like it will actually be built and generate 100 MW 24/7 gives me cause for hope. Of course its not a solution for the UK, but there are plenty of countries where sunshine is plentiful, and if this works it is easy to imagine how rapidly it could be replicated around the world.
Hope is a delicate flower, and not often seen. Best enjoy it when it shows its head.