Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Farming the Sun

Another day of nil progress at the Field Lab but good news for the Big Bend region....my sources tell me that a huge solar farm is slated to begin construction next year near Marfa. While I was still in upstate NY, I read a number of articles back in '06 about a company called Stirling Energy Systems. During a road trip west in February of '07, I stopped by their offices in Scottsdale AZ but they weren't interested in visitors. Was hoping to get permission to see their test facility at the Sandia National Laboratories outside of Albuquerque - no dice. Anyway....seems the technology is ready to go now and out of the bag. Finally, an alternative energy development that sounds too good to be true but actually works and is going mainstream. http://alpineavalanche.com/articles/2009/06/29/front/front01.txt


seth said...

this looks to be "hopefully" very promising technology. Now we just need to down size one for private use.

Ben in Texas said...

Great technology, BUT it sure screws up the view of the landscape, like a bunch of Wind driven generators.

rj said...

Stirling engines are available in downsizes including do it yourself kits. The problem is being large enough to run a significant generator. In these huge solar applications (some already running) the maintenance of mechanical parts may be the limiting factor but modern lubricants, materials and tight engineering tolerances make the design more feasible in the 21st century than it was in the 1800's.

A good article on Stirling Engines on wiki

A science project for the kids here

jandean said...

Yay! Sun capture!
On the side: John, when did you stop posting high/low temps on the blog?
And why? Did I miss that memo?

Anonymous said...

I agree ben, but I guess its better than burning coal or damming up a river or worse.

look at it this way, ITS IN MARFA.
over priced prada, city slicker people gonna surround them selves with what they left. I dont care if it ruins thier sunsets.

but feel bad for the old folks that have to watch their town the way its going.

Bob from Athens said...

I would gladly prefer to gaze upon a couple thousand acres of these dishes instead of one smoke, carbon, polution belching coal or gas fired power plant. Heck if they want to put one in my back yard, so long as I can have a little of the juice, WELCOME. I'm tired of throwing all that money to the big oil.

By the way, denziel86 thanks for the link to back woods solar, spent two hours there. Seems like they not only know a lot about what they are selling, they are willing to advise potential customers to slow down and and not jump into buying something they don't need or that will not work for their application and their prices are realistic.

Deane said...

We have all seen what "big" can mean for our future, all we have to do is look at "big oil". I believe that the government should be funding small solar projects like your own, so that the technology is spread out across the country. That way a large storm can't cripple the whole grid, or we don't become hostage to "big solar".

Grant Wagner said...

Sterling engines may be a bit of a toy in terms of true usefulness, but there is nothing wrong with a classic steam engine. A 6 or 8' satilite TV disc, a little alluminim foil or mylar would make for a great parabolic reflector. A bit of steel pipe, a hobbyist steam engine, and a treadmill motor generator should complete the system. Now who wants to actually try it?