Study Finds Solar Thermal Power Could Supply Over 90 Percent Of U.S. Grid

Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered Ausra Inc., a developer of utility-scale solar thermal power technology, has published a peer-reviewed study showing that over 90% of the U.S. electric grid and auto fleets energy needs could be met by solar thermal power.

The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration projects over 70% total growth in the nation's electricity demands by 2025, and analysts predict a further increase in electricity needs as plug-in electric hybrid vehicles come to the market, according to Ausra.

‘The U.S. could nearly eliminate our dependence on coal, oil and gas for electricity and transportation, drastically slashing global warming pollution without increasing costs for energy,’ says David Mills, chief scientific officer and founder at Ausra. ‘This new study shows that our daily and annual energy needs closely match the energy production potential from solar thermal power plants with heat energy storage, and our models show solar thermal power will cost less than continuing to import oil.’

Converting the national electricity grid to solar thermal power would reduce overall American global warming pollution by 40%, and the combination of plug-in hybrids and solar thermal power would eliminate the importation of 13 million barrels of fuel per day, says Ausra. The study additionally found that because the seasonal and daily patterns of solar radiation already correlate strongly with electricity use, just 16 hours of thermal storage can provide reliable, load-following electric power.

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