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Photovoltaic/Sterling Engine 060215
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