GLOBAL RESOURCES ANALYSIS
TECHNOLOGIES | CSP POWER TECHNOLOGY
Sun light is transferred into warmth if it hits the earth surface. With mirrors this light can be concentrated and it warmth can become heath (like burning paper with just sun light and a magnifying glass we did in our youth) and can be used for making electrical power the same way as we do as we burn coal in coal to power plants (warmth gets steam, steam powers a turbine, turbine makes power. So warmth based solar power, which is known as CSP: Concentrated Solar Power (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/solar_thermal_energy). Large 'farms' in de desert could do this for us. The technology is simple, not experimental but proven, although of course the technology can be improved by use (for example by the use of sterling engines instead of turbines). Only use of small pieces of the Sahara could supply the whole earth (each economy of the world) of current electrical power need (according to DLR: German Aerospace Center). It could facilitate the world power need exclusive mobility: current level of mobility uses too much joules, but by less mobility due higher energy prices mobility could also be electrical powered (by use of build-in chemical or hydrogen batteries). The main component of CPS is glass for both mirrors and construction parts, which can be made on modular industrial base locally of desert sand, which reduces the investment costs severely and increases thereby the capital/output efficiency. The world has enough deserts on many locations for huge CSP projects and the new HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) power transport (only 3% power lost per 1000 km transport distance) can transport this power to each economy on the globe cost efficient. The great thing on the CSP/HVDC combo is that it needs no operational fuel. The business model is just investment write down, interest and maintenance. No daily fuel/coal needed, so need daily additional costs. By this an other facet must be highlighted: fossil oil/gas/coal prices increase approximately 50% a year till they are not longer available. So no daily costs and no negative wild card (rising fuel costs), these two facets makes renewable energy so interesting. You know what you get, and will not face any economic wildcard, that makes any future calculation impossible. When the current coal price explosion hits the exploitation of power companies, and they see that there are no fuel costs and therefore no black holes in the exploitation CSP will become the most beautiful business case in the energy market. When this simple true hits the mind of power companies, oil/gas/coal will be abandoned very rapidly (or at least be replaced by decentral joint warmth/power generation). The CPS/HVDC combo is a mainly capital driven business model. Capital and sun are the only two main ingredients, take in perspective that nations with deserts very much like to use them for own power generation and earning foreign currencies. That they can 'tax' the fact that the have deserts and that the sun shines brings a smile on each government nearby the equator. CSP will have a giant new geopolitical power impact nobody is waiting for, if the finance model isn't right. Only half the problem is solved if finite oil import addiction just will be trade in to endless sun import addition. The right finance model (based on mutual interest) or on addressing both daytime and nighttime solutions will prevent black mailing situations, which import by fixed lines always has: 1) threatening with power cuts, or 2) threatening with nationalization, or 3) suddenly increasing prices and taxes. This is a very good example that militarism is a thing of the past. The powers of the future are not military, but economic. Local solar/wind power is the best in terms of independency. Bilateral relations are the best and most solid if they are based on real mutual interest. The huge benefit of CSP is that it's a technological neutral development, as in a collection of some already decades developed technologies. Of course CSP can be improved, but mostly/only on production price. Even Saudi Arabia, which is the world's biggest oil exporter and oil reserves owner, plans to become an world leader in another, cleaner and renewable, field of energy by investing in solar power, both for own use and export, the country's oil minister (Mr. Ali al-Nuaimi) said in an interview in March 20088 with Petrostrategies: "For a country like Saudi Arabia, one of the most important sources of energy to look at and to develop is solar energy. In the same way we are an oil exporter, we can also be an exporter of power." They could do this power export by HVDC power lines, by Hydrogen or by manufacturing high energy demanding finished products (like fertilizers). There is certainly a need for a CSP knowledge company that exactly knows where worldwide the best CSP production processes can be bought. CSP knowledge and production will be two different types of economic sectors.
Author: Gijs Graafland
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