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The World's most efficient solar energy system

Ripasso Energy has designed the world's most efficient solar energy system.

One of the limitations of solar energy is the inefficiency with which it converts solar radiation to usable electricity. While solar panels have certainly improved in this area over the years, they still achieve on average about a 23% conversion rate, which can drop to about 15% usable energy once it enters the grid. This is still fairly good considering that there are no by-products or emissions (like CO2 or ash from burning coal) and not to mention minimal demands on water. But better efficiencies would be better, right? Well one company has been able to increase the efficiency of their solar collectors to produce grid ready power with a 34% conversion rate, meaning that they have developed the world’s most efficient solar electricity system.

The small Swedish company, Ripasso Energy, has designed a 12m diameter dish-like structure that concentrates the sun’s radiation by combining a zero-emission Stirling Power Convertor with a parabolic mirror that tracks the sun’s movement throughout the day. Independent testing of the system has confirmed that each dish can generate the equivalent amount of electricity (75-85MW hours/year) that would normally release 81 metric tonnes of CO2 through burning coal. That is enough to power 24 typical households and a massive potential saving in emissions. In addition, the system uses a small land area (2Ha/MW) and has no water demands.

Interestingly the technology used in this system is based on an idea first developed in 1816 by a Scottish engineer, combined with modern military technology. These sorts of advances demonstrate an exciting future for solar and renewable energy.

 

Source: Barbee, J. 13 May, 2015. ‘Could this be the world’s most efficient solar electricity system?’ Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/13/could-this-be-the-worlds-most-efficient-solar-electricity-system. Accessed: 16 July, 2015.

Humphries, M. 13 May, 2015. ‘Most efficient solar energy dish in the world uses engine developed in 1816.’ Available at: http://www.geek.com/science/most-efficient-solar-energy-dish-in-the-world-uses-engine-developed-in-1816-1622697/. Accessed: 16 July, 2015.

Ripasso Energy, 2015. Ripasso Energy. Accessed: 16 July, 2015.

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The Author

Skye Douglass

Skye is currently studying her Masters in Water Resources Management through Central Queensland University and has previously completed a Bachelor of Science and Honours degree through the University of Southern Queensland. She has worked as a researcher and consultant for over 15 years on a range of different projects including wildlife surveys, wildlife relocations, environmental and wildlife impacts, feral animal and weed species management, revegetation and native plant species identification. Most recently her interests have been in sustainable agriculture, water management, groundwater use and environmental management. She is passionate about sustainable living and minimal impacts management and endeavours to find innovative and cost effective solutions to real world problems.

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