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August 16, 2005


Robert McLeod

With a reflectivity of 0.91 they are probably using Aluminium mirrors, rather than the Silver referenced in the 1970s prototypes.

It's interesting that they can get +40 % efficiency out of test units. The theoretical maximum for a single junction Si-cell is 44 % [Shockley, 1961]. Of course, due to entropy limits solar-electric will eventually thrash solar-thermal, even in the Southwest desert, but it could take a long, long time.

I made a post about the efficiency of parabolic mirrors under clouds at my blog the other day that is relevant.


Unfortunately, these concentrator systems are geographically limited to the Sahara and the Arizona desert.


I can't help but notice that the collector area (37 m^2) is considerably less than the roof area of many homes. Also, the az-el mounts required for steering rigid dishes are expensive. This hints that it may be cheaper to cover a roof with individually steerable mirrors (a la Energy Innovations) directing light at a fixed receiver. Control of heat input could be achieved by steering individual mirrors on or off axis as required; an excess of mirrors could be used to compensate for e.g. infrequent cleaning of the mirror array.

If the same $2.00/watt price could be maintained, individual homes could produce power far in excess of their use and at less than retail cost (plus all the hot water anyone could want). The consequences would be earth-shaking.


"The consequences would be earth-shaking"

I agree with E-P. Energy Innovation's Sunflower solar collectors are very promising. IF (and there's the catch) they can provide aproximately $2.00/watt prices and these suckers can go on people's roofs this could be a very disruptive technology and preferable to the industrial-scale solar farm model being built by SES. However, right now, the sunflower 250 is designed for flat roofs not the angled ones on your typical house limiting them to commercial and industrial applications for now. There's still plenty of room for use in these locations but they need another model for houses (which they say they are working on now). If they can pull it off at low enough cost, these solar collectors and/or thin film pvs could revolutionize distributed solar power. And if equal in price, distributed generation is preferable to power plant-scale generation as making power where it is used is much more efficient (cuts down on costs and energy losses of transmitting power over a transmission line system).

Thanks for another good post. Cheers,
Jesse Jenkins aka WattHead

Jim from The Energy Blog

I havn't been convinced that the Sunflower is a viable product, but it would be good if it was. If anyone has a link to some real information on it, please let me know. Distributed energy will be great when we get it. I doubt if SES can get anything close to $2.00 a watt for a lower output module that might be affordable for a homeowner. However their is a lot of industry that has enough flat roof space for these units. Even then we will need central power plants. SCE is going to put these in California, not Arizona, so we will see how their efficiency holds up. Their is a lot of power used in CA, AZ, NM, & TX, for a very large market for SES, if these could be put close enough to send the power over the grid. The only information I have is that they are using glass for the collector as I stated in the end of my post.


It does not necessarily matter if these units are affordable for individual homeowners. Consider the amount of power available from the premises of:
- Multi-family condominiums.
- Apartment buildings.
- Shopping centers and malls.
- Commercial buildings.
- Municipal buildings.

Worst case, the four homeowners whose property meets at a corner give an easement for a dish on a post there; each one owns a quarter and gets 1/4 of the power. Outlay would be about $12,500 per household and production in good sunlight would be something like 37 kWh/household/day, more than the national average consumption.

(Ye GODS, this blog software is hideously intolerant! It doesn't even allow escaped characters, forget lists.)


does anyone kno the bibliography for this website?

Jim from The Energy Blog

The bibliography is listed under Resources: at the end of the post. Some of the very minor sources may have been left out.


Stirling engines are difficult to build (tight tolerance)and have to many moving parts for long MTBE even free piston designs. If they could build a thermalacoustic generator, possibly a cascaded regenerator stack design with linear generator then you would have a 30-40,000 hr MTBE. With the advances being made in self pumping designs (no internal heat exchangers) the technology is available.

Jim Mixan

Good news in the very near future regarding Thin Film Solar PV applications and LED Lighting. Researchers in the Lab have created Quantum Dots. This is nano scale technology that can be made by chemists in almost any University. Quantum Dots are being called artificial atoms, as they are made up of groups of atoms numbering in the hundreds to a few thousand. Keyword here is (Small). Light beams shining through these Quantum dots do not behave like normal optics, ex. lenses and mirrors. LEDS and Solar cells are made of similar materials. In a Solar cell light photons strike the surface and electrons flow in a circuit. In a LED electrons flow through the junction and photons are radiated. This is a definite correlation between these technologies. Researchers are claiming that inexpensive thin films made with Quantum dots will be cheaper than current technolgies based on Silicon. Super efficient LEDS for low voltage lighting and Solar Panels that can be sprayed on to a substrate hold great promise. Do a Google search on the subject of Quantum Dots and you be the judge.

yousef zakaria

hi every body..
i want to ask if any one has information about the design of "solar powered heat engine"?


The specs and suggeted pricing of these Stirling/Solar units make very exciting converstion. If the could, would, should commentary has been acheived, I'm ready for a distributed energy installation without delay. Mine is an agricutural pumping situation, where space and orientation aned appearance are not issues.

I very much agree with Jim from the Energy Blog(8/17/05).

$2 per watt SHOULD have amazing consequences IF it WOULD deliver what the developers say it COULD.

Is there any updated info on progress of this technology?? Any real hard info would be appreciated.

Ernest Demaray

For the concentrator there are three things, the low cost mirror, the delta G to e- converter and the ROS. There is hope for a very low cost durable (20yr) mirror. I am doing that. The heat converter seems like the turbine engine prior to WWII. The Sterling, the so called 'bladeless' turbine (wish they would not say 'ionize'), the 'cascade' acoustic (pizo?) converter, even perhaps a high pressure direct steam electrolysis to H2 converter. Solid state G/e- It will be!

khalid ismail naser alwali

hello dear freinds
please send to me full offer for iraq dish grid engine solar cell
with many thanks
khalid ismail naser alwalli



in english?
im doing this for a year 11 assignment

tom walkman

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Mark Blooman

The CSP projects underway are quite exciting. Consider also the experimental systems using Ammonia as a transfer medium to produce turbine generated electricity - heated by the airconditioning no less! Heat pump efficiency coefficients in excess of 4 have been achieved.

The PV systems have a greater theoretical capacity, but solar thermal systems using a mix of new and existing technology have the lead right now. And Right now is when we need them.

Anybody know of commercially available systems now? Solar or any other heat source?

Greg woulf

I can't help you on commercial sources, but I think there's some action going on in California for Stirling energy.

They're ready to start construction on the two big SES plants, one in the Mojave, and one in San Bernadino.

I read a transcript from SES about their current status and it sounds like it's going well. They're finalizing production methods and repair/maintenance instructions so that they can accomplish the goals as cost effectively as possible.

California has them approved for both 800+ MW energy plants. They just need final certification to begin construction, and from that to construction is supposed to be less than a year.

Even if PV does overtake thermal in efficiency, it's got to also do it at the same cost to mean anything.

I hope they are very competitive with eachother, so that we make the best use of supplies and still get competitive prices without monopoly.


Dish/Stirling engines are said to have the advantage of directly converting the heat into motion. However, it might actually be better to have a heating medium. The key is storage. Mainstream storage of electricity is problematic: it is too expensive. Flow batteries are too costly, lead acid also and ditto for every other battery in existence. Buck a watt solar panels are no good if the storage costs hundreds of dollars per kwh.
2. Pumped hydro is an exception and moreover also a mature industrial scale technology. However it is geographically limited so it cannot be economically expanded all that much (although it could technologically).
3. Flywheels are a wildcard, but right now are not feasible for mainstream electricity storage. Same for superconducting coil storage. Eestor is currently vaporware.

So, the bottom line is that some of the above problems need to be solved in a reasonable timeframe. If they do, PV might win big. If it takes much longer, then meanwhile there's solar thermal with proven inexpensive and reliable storage tech. Ready to go right now.

Dish/sterling however, competes directly with CPV, novel flat plate (e.g. Sliver Cells) and thin film schemes. This is a competition which it ultimately cannot win.

Therefore, if I was forced to choose between dish/sterling and CLFR, I'd take the latter.


Just a thought about storing electricity. Why can't one store PV electricity using thermal storage? Electric heating is pretty efficient, is it not?

Mind you, then you need a heat based generator to extract the energy later, so you have to add that to the cost of using a PV system to collect things. A combined system like this might win on effiency grounds (unclear), but it's probably got a problem on the cost side....


Which companies involved in selling Dish/Stirling systems?


Dear Sir

We are Interested in your product (stirling dish). and we also need your advise as following.
-is your product (Stirling Dish) available for commercial Market now?.
-Could you Please advise on idea price/unit ?.

With best Regards
Anon Rattanapan

rate my body

wow this is so interesting. i just love the new technology.

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Residential solar power generators are becoming more and more popular. As individuals struggle to pay heir energy bills, the need for alternative energy and fuels are real.

Solar Energy

Great post! Thanks a lot....

Tanvir Abdullah

please send us more detail on this system

Jack Kolbow the Suitcase Generator Guy

This new technology will really help a lot.

Sam Mecham

Now that it has been over 5 years since this article first appeared, have you done a follow up to see if the claims made by SES have held up?

cheap clothing

I wonder what will be the meaning of those symbols. Hope there is one click for the translation here.

hot water heater systems

More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the United States have invested in solar heating systems, and surveys indicate that over 94% of these customers consider the systems a good investment.


how can this used to serving the since ?

Account Deleted

It is good solar power in our future. I read http://www.sunpowerport.com to signify that the solar power generator is useful in our everyday life. :D

Mike's Air Conditioning

Oh that sounds great that there is a demand for the solar energy panels.This huge project is going to be very resourceful and useful and cost saving too.

make solar panels

nice site, huge discussion about solar energy. very impressive post for solar power

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solar energy panels

I have not heart about Stirling engine before. Also this is the time I know this engine can combine with solar energy. It is good if their efficiency is over 30% as most of other solutions can achieve this. Thanks

solar thermal collectors

Many of the passive solar thermal systems will be used for water heating and will make it possible to heat a large amount of water then naturally disperse it to other locations. One of the most used options is through solar vacuum tubes which will produce movement of the water as it heats and will make it possible to heat the water in a pool or to save in a reservoir which can contain up to 50-80 gallons of water in reserve until needed at a nice temperature. You may have already seen this type of thermal system in a normal water hose which can hold water in it even when shut off. The heat of the sun will heat up the water and that water will be significantly hotter than the water that will be displacing it for a few seconds to a few minutes.








Just a thought about storing electricity. Why can't one store PV electricity using thermal storage? Electric heating is pretty efficient, is it not?

Mind you, then you need a heat based generator to extract the energy later, so you have to add that to the cost of using a PV system to collect things. A combined system like this might win on effiency grounds (unclear), but it's probably got a problem on the cost side....

Deerfield Beach Air Conditioning

The solar power is finding a lot of applications and it can be used to run the AC also.
Deerfield Beach Air Conditioning
is doing the repairs of all those AC's which run on the solar energy.

Pomapno Beach AC Service

Thanks for Post nice tips about to get cooling form the Heat in the Summer.Keep Posting


Solar power system is the best method for consuming more electricity and save money also and it helps in pollution free environment.
so i have started Groupon business

ft lauderdale air duct cleaning

Thanks for such Valuable information,its really helpful to my business.

AC Repair

Solar power is a modern technic in the field of science and technology, it helps in how to generate electric by the sun through solar power.its totally polluted free and it also helps in our AC Repair Manassas business.


Yes we need to work for the benefit for the mankind and use all advanced technologies.

Hialeah Emergency AC Repair

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iPhone 4 ケース

Their applications to LEDs are also very promising. Sounds like this development of nanotechnology will have a bright future (pun intended) in energy applications.

D. More

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