Australia uses a system of mirror fields to capture the sun’s rays and direct it to water, which generates steam, which creates power. California is also using a similar system, and may soon be used to power Los Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.
One physicist theorizes that solar power can be generated, stored, and distributed throughout the United States. This would essentially replace oil and natural gas as our sources of power. Even electric cars, plugged into the grid, could be powered with solar-thermal electricity. And he says he can do it for $.10 per megawatt hour. Not bad, considering the cost of electricity will continue to rise under the current system of non-renewable resources, and solar-thermal has no harmful effects on the environment. Thermal storage is less expensive than electricity storage.
by combining a system that would meet the needs of California and Texas, solar-thermal plants could supply 96 percent of the national electricity demand. “We have the ability to transition to a zero-carbon electricity future without moving the electricity price around” says John O’Donnel of Ausra.
A solar-thermal system like this would also work well with supplemental energy sources, such as wind power.
“If its storage system works and proves cost-effective, Ausra might just help usher in a solar revolution.” – Scientific American