Although solar cells are technologically exciting, there’s another way to convert sunlight into energy. Stirling generators can convert heat energy into electricity without the use of toxic chemicals.
Essentially, all you need are large mirrors, a Stirling engine, a little bit of reusable hydrogen gas, some water to wash the mirrors, engine oil and a lot of land. There are several companies around the world that have worked hard to take advantage of this technology.
Stirling Energy Systems, headquartered in Phoenix, is building two large solar plants in California, for example. The above picture is what these solar generators look like.
Just one of these engines can produce enough energy – about 55,000 KWh of electricity – to power about a dozen homes each year. The efficiency of these machines is impressive, reaching a conversion rate of 31.25 percent, reports Popular Mechanics.
But as I wrote earlier this month, there always, always seems to be a downside to energy production. As you can see from this picture, it takes a LOT of solar engines to make enough electricity to feed our energy needs. While one looks cool, lots of them are kind of unattractive.
This solar farm is in a fairly desolate spot in the Mohave Desert where the general population is not likely to complain about aesthetics. But the solar project, which has been winning clean energy awards, has a new problem: a California judge “struck down plans to build a high power transmission line (through a national park,) effectively dooming the massive solar initiatives set to be built in the desert,” reports Daily Tech.