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20-Megawatt Solar-Power Tower Could Fry You Like an Ant

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Abenoga’s 20-megawatt solar-power tower–a 541-foot-high pillar located in Seville, Spain–is finished, and will produce enough power for 10,000 homes. The solar tower is the largest in the world, about half as tall as New York City’s Chrysler building, and it’s covered with 1,255 mirrored heliostats that focus solar radiation. The radiation boils water to drive a turbine and generate electricity.

The PS20 plant is the second installation in Abengoa’s “Solucar” complex, and it’s only the second solar power tower in commercial use. In the future, Abengoa plans on adding another 20 MW plant to the complex as part of its larger plan to produce 300 MW by 2013.

Most solar-power plants use photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert solar energy to electricity. The PS20 plant uses concentrated solar (CSP), using parabolic mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy. CSP is becoming increasingly popular as solar analysts catch wind of its cost effectiveness and power-generating capacity. As a result, solar-power towers are rising everywhere. The world’s largest solar deal, completed in February by Brightsource Energy, included seven solar-power towers in Southern California. Brightsource also recently installed a 1,600-heliostat tower in Israel’s Negev Desert.

[Via Reuters]

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