Monday, July 28, 2008

MIT team plays with fire to create cheap energy |

MIT team plays with fire to create cheap energy |

Inventor responds. Not a blogger, but have a few minutes of free time.

One square meter of solar dish aperture is worth one barrel of oil per year (burned at 85% efficiency) in Colorado climate. Each m^2 should cost about $100… simple one year payback against oil and two years against natural gas, all without solar subsidies — very important for global warming mitigation.

China and India have told me they have raw materials and massive causal labor. They want rapid scale up with no new tooling nor capital bottlenecks.

Nothing new about solar dishes. The news is construction simplicity (without special tooling) and low dish materials cost.

Smaller dish size is cheaper due to the ground, rather than steel, supporting mirrors.

The frame was made from all identical parts. Only a paraboloid has that potential.

The mirrors are flexed into near perfect parabolic curves with force rather than with conforming substrates.

Two flexed dishes have survived record breaking hurricanes with zero damage.

Our first dish is 30 years old and the exposed mirrors (glass/silver/copper/paint) are in good shape with only minor degradation. The MIT mirrors are off-the-shelf low-iron glass/silver/palladium/paint and are even more durable ~ $1.65/square foot (Guardian Industries).

Amory Lovins recommended I put this into the public domain. NASA engineers advised a patent to pay for engineering improvements. A sole US patent was a compromise.

The question in search of an answer is: How cheap can solar get?