Experimental solar steam rig could feed conventional power stations

A housing developer is trialling a solar steam rig it says could generate power or desalinate water even in cloudy conditions.

Trial rig will test performance on cloudy days Trial rig will test performance on cloudy days

The system, installed at Larkfleet Group’s headquarters in Bourne, Lincolnshire, focuses the sun’s rays onto metal tubes filled with water. This heats it into steam, which can be used to drive a turbine.

The developers will test the equipment’s performance in British winter conditions. It is expected to produce some power even on cloudy days, but the main market will be in sunnier countries.

If successful, it could be scaled up to feed steam into thermal power stations so they only need to burn fossil fuel at night, the developers claim.

The 13x5.5 metre test rig sits alongside an Eco House and a “PassiveHouse” also developed by Larkfleet as part of its sustainability research. It was invented by David Boyle, director of Solar Steel.

Karl Hick, Larkfleet Group chief executive, said: "The solar steam rig provides an opportunity for investigation into a new method of low carbon energy generation and is just another example of Larkfleet's commitment to innovation and energy efficiency.

"Larkfleet will use this as a research and development opportunity and hopes to gain a better understanding of the technology involved and its possible uses. This is very much a long-term project - we will trial the technology fully over the next couple of years before coming to any conclusions about the potential for future use."

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