This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 17, 2004

Sandia to Help Build a 150-Kilowatt, Six-Dish Solar Facility

Photo of a man working on the solar receiver and reflected in the facets of the solar dish arrayed behind him

A researcher makes adjustments to the first of six dish-Stirling systems to be installed at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility.
Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

DOE's Sandia National Laboratories announced on November 9th that it will work with Stirling Energy Systems, Inc. (SES) to build a 150-kilowatt solar thermal power plant at its National Solar Thermal Test Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. By January 2005, Sandia and SES staff will construct five prototype dish-Stirling systems at the facility to complement a system installed earlier this year. Each of the systems consists of 82 mirrors mounted on a steel frame in the shape of a dish. The mirrors concentrate the sun's heat onto a receiver, which transmits the heat to a Stirling engine. This heat-driven engine converts the heat into mechanical energy, which drives a generator to produce power.

Sandia and SES will use the six-dish installation to improve the reliability and performance of the dish-Stirling systems while determining how best they can be integrated to form a large solar power plant. Although each prototype system now costs about $150,000, SES estimates that a production unit would cost less than $50,000, which would make it cost-competitive with conventional power technologies. See the Sandia press release, and visit the Sandia Web site for more information about the National Solar Thermal Test Facility.