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Batteries Digest Newsletter and Website are Copyright 1996-2007 by Teksym Corporation
Photovoltaic/Sterling Engine 060215
 (Feb 2006) Power from the Sunbaked Desert
Southern California Edison (SCE) is committed to the purchase of  all of the energy which Stirling Energy Systems Inc. (SES) can produce for 20 years from a 500 MW solar farm near Victorville,  CA. The  SES system is based on a 37-foot diameter solar dish which focuses the energy on a Sterling engine which heats gas to move pistons which then turn a generator. The incentive behind the program is to help SCE meet the California state mandate to derive 20% of their electricity from renewables by 2017. The present agreement has power costing less than the present 11.33 cents/kWh for peak power so that no state subsidies are required. SES must think that it can make a profit with these numbers.

The dish/Sterlings have present and future benefits. They are almost 30% efficient compared to the ballpark 10% of photovoltaics. Today, each generator costs $250,000 and generates 25 kW, about $10/Watt, similar to the installed cost of a Watt of PV on a house. The dish/Sterlings cost are anticipated  to drop in volume to half the present cost in mass production.(Ed. Note:Installed  residential PV has not dropped below this $ 10/Watt figure after decades of experience, contrary to the hype of manufacturers, and may be stuck in this range without technology breakthroughs.)

Business Week, September 12, 2005, pp. 76-77