EcoGeek has a post promoting SkyFuel's view that their parabolic mirror solar thermal power technology will be cheaper than existing alternatives - SkyFuel’s Solar Thermal: Lighter, Cheaper, Better.
SkyFuel, a company which has been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on utility-scale concentrated solar power plants, has recently come out with a new parabolic trough system. The technology itself is not new – mirrors reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a salt solution which boils and turns a turbine. Skyfuel’s system stands out, though, because it is cheaper, lighter and easy to manufacture and install.
The parabolic mirrors themselves are made out of plastic and silver, instead of glass. The plastic is what makes the system cheaper – 25% cheaper, according to SkyFuel. They claim that they can offer electricity below 15 cents; currently the standard for solar thermal, though higher than the average cost of non-renewable electricity. And the light weight of the plastic means that the entire system can be loaded onto a single flatbed truck and shipped to its destination.
As more and more utilities try to meet their renewable portfolio standards, the demand for solar thermal is increasing. Solar thermal is a proven, and the low cost and easy installation of Skyfuel’s system only sweetens the deal. Plus, Skyfuel’s troughs can be connected to existing steam turbines – this lowers the cost even further, and allows utilities to “retrofit” old power plants.