Solar Traps improve on current technology

May 8, 2013 

Cost of energy
Cost of energy
US energy spending
US energy spending
Benefits of Solar Traps
Benefits of Solar Traps

Solar among most expensive, least utilized energy sources

Projected electric power production cost for new plants in 2018
Hover over categories for more details
cost per megawatt hour (range based on location)
500
400
300
200
100
Natural gas
$62.50 to $149.80 per megawatt hour
28.4%
23.5 quadrillion BTUs
Coal
$89.50 to $152.70 per megawatt hour
30.1%
22.2 quadrillion BTUs
Nuclear
$104.40 to $115.30 per megawatt hour
11%
8.3 quadrillion BTUs
Hydro
$58.40 to $149.20 per megawatt hour
4.1%
3.2 quadrillion BTUs
Wind
$73.50 to $294.70 per megawatt hour
1.5%
1.2 quadrillion BTUs
Current solar technology
photovoltaic
thermal
$190.20 to $417.60 per megawatt hour
$112.50 to $224.40 per megawatt hour
photovoltaic: 0.2%
0.2 quadrillion BTUs
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Agency's "Electric Power Annual, 2012" and "Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release Overview"

U.S. energy spending approached 1980s levels before recession

U.S. energy spending as a share of GDP
percent of U.S. gross domestic product
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2010
2008: U.S. energy spending recently peaked at 9.9% of GDP
Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency's "Electric Power Annual, 2012"

How would Solar Traps improve on traditional solar technology?

Click on a section below to learn more about how Solar Traps compare to currently used technology.

Efficiency

Efficiency

Current solar technology

It's inefficient. Photo-voltaic panels collect less than 20 percent of the sun's energy that hits them. Higher-temperature solar thermal power plants radiate away most of the energy collected.

"Solar Trap" solutions

Ron Ace says his device is nearly 100 percent efficient, absorbing almost all of the solar energy that hits it and containing radiation losses to a negligible percentage.

Cost of energy storage

Cost of energy storage

Current solar technology

It's costly to store. Rooftop photovoltaic systems can store energy in lead acid batteries, but only at very high cost. Solar plants that use concentrating mirrors can store energy in molten salt for 4 to 12 hours, usually enough for the plant to get through the night in the desert. To increase that to a week would more than triple the cost of a solar thermal plant.

"Solar Trap" solutions

High-temperature rooftop solar traps could capture enough energy for economical storage in cheap materials, such as sand, for as long as desired. When Solar Traps are used in solar power plants with arrays of mirrors, energy can be stored cheaply at much higher temperatures for as long as desired.

Impact of
weather

Impact of weather

Current solar technology

Most solar thermal power plants are being built in the Southwest to maximize sunshine and aren't even economically viable in deserts without government subsidies.

"Solar Trap" solutions

Solar Traps can be mounted on rooftops or used in solar thermal energy plants almost anywhere, though the cost will rise proportionately in cloudier regions.


Cost of panels

Cost of panels

Current solar technology

Purchasers of photovoltaic panels usually recover costs in 15 years, roughly the life of the panels, with the help of tax subsidies.

"Solar Trap" solutions

The cost of rooftop Solar Traps can be recovered in two to four years, after which buyers will power their homes for free and can sell excess energy to utilities, Ace says.

Cost of large power plants

Cost of large power plants

Current solar technology

Existing plants drawing energy from mirror fields produce electricity at 15 to 18 cents a kilowatt hour, triple the cost of coal-fired plants, even with government subsidies.

"Solar Trap" solutions

Conventional nuclear, coal and gas plants can be retrofitted with Solar Traps and produce electricity for about 2 cents a kilowatt hour.

Space
requirements

Space requirements

Current solar technology

For current photovoltaic panels to power the country, it would take 8 to 10 times more rooftop space than exists over U.S. homes and businesses, enough to cover the state of Utah, and with inadequate energy storage.

"Solar Trap" solutions

Solar Traps could power the country if they covered all existing rooftops, Ace says.

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Sources: U.S. Energy Information Agency, McClatchy research and Ron Ace

 

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