August 14, 2005 6:00 AM PDT

Start-up sees new dawn for old solar tech

A New Age massage educator resurrects discarded engine technology, uses it to evangelize on behalf of a new type of solar energy.
Photos: Catching rays with a Stirling engine

The story "Start-up sees new dawn for old solar tech" published August 14, 2005 at 6:00 AM is no longer available on CNET News.


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Slawson should look up these people, if he hasn't already.
Posted by (19 comments )
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Questionable numbers
In what world does a 150 kW generator power 40 homes?
Posted by (4 comments )
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don't forget
that 7+ cents per kW/h is competative? I pay 0.2 cents (not 2 cents) and it's still high. Keep this away from me.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
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What about the SCE Contract??
I find the negative tone of the opening paragraph really odd, stating that So. Cal. Edison declined the idea as they just announced last week a big power purchase agreement with SCE to build a huge 500 MW generation facility in Victorville CA. see the press release here: <a class="jive-link-external" href=";year=0&#38;id=5885" target="_newWindow">;year=0&#38;id=5885</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
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SCE contract
The story is a feature originally published by The several days before the SCE-Stirling agreement was announced. We've updated this version of the story to take that news into account.
Posted by Jon Skillings (249 comments )
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This article is terrible !!!
Whenever you try to change the status quo, you get distractors and critics...especially from competitors. The article is pretty inaccurate and snide and sarcastic, but provides no facts as to why this will, or won't work. As an investor in SES, I know that lots of their facts are incorrect, from the size of the contracts, the $ amounts involved, the costs of the SES Stirling engines, how much more efficient SES is than photovoltaic (it's 2x, not 3x), etc.

They turn the fact that the Reagan reversal of Carter's solar tax credits (which they don't mention) led to McDonnel Douglas' abandonment of the $400 million they put into this technology into a slam on the technology by saying it's a " quirky, early-19th-century engine design repeatedly discarded as antiquated, most recently by aerospace company McDonnell Douglas and utility giant Southern California Edison" Where the hell do they get that? The Stirling engine concept has been around a long time, but the dishes are only 30 years old. And, if it's so antiquated, why was Southern California Edison, one of the companies that abandoned the technology, so eager to sign billion $ contracts on the it? The contract was signed on 8/9, a week before this article appeared, with no mention that it has been signed.

Their comments about the feasibility of the Stirling Engine are based on no facts, just their snide comments that it's antiquated.. In fact, their own article apparently contradicts itself, by saying that the technology is " used in extremely high-tech environments, such as within nuclear-powered submarines, but has never been deployed on a broader commercial basis." Are they saying that Australian and Swedish submarines and other large ships (not mentioned) are not a commercial basis? And, isn't a solar power plant, or the SES dish a a high-tech environment? If not, why not?

It is true that commercial development of a stirling engine is difficult, but Kokums, a huge Swedish defense contractor has done that quite successfully for quite awhile. And this is the company that is providing SES with their proprietary designs for an engine to use in SES's systems that has already been tested successfully for about 8 years. Again, no mention of any of this in the article.

The article follwiing statement is totally worthless: "The engine's one big drawback, however, is that it requires near constant amounts of sunlight when the sun happens to be shining, which restricts its use to places such as the deserts of the American southwest. Another problem: Tracts of isolated land are needed to set up the mirrors and tubes and noisy pistons to generate enough energy to make it worthwhile" A a statement like that can be said of any alternative energy. Wind turbines need to be where there is wind, geothermal has to be near hot spots, water has to be on rivers, etc. The fact that it can be setup near isolated areas is a plus, not a negative. There won't be many complaints, like there have been with wind turbines, of destroying people's views out their kitech windoes. I"ve seen it in person and there is no noise to the SES system and it tracks the sun across the sky for optimal efficiency.

While the article admits that SES is the most efficient solar energy system, certified by the Dept of Energy, their assumption that they won't be able to get the price down to competitive levels is based on no facts whatsoever. In fact, the opposite is true, the SES systems, when in full mass production, will produce electricity cheaper than any other alternative energy system and be cost competitve with all sources of electicity generation. It is based solely on the words of Harry Braun, who also gives no facts to support his contention. First he says that SES won't be able to get the costs down (no facts or explanation to back that up) and then they say that Braun &#38; Slawson. "agree that Slawson's Stirling Energy Systems boasts good science as well as inspiring environmentalism. Only the business model is in doubt," So, which is it.? Is it antiquated technology that isn't New Age, or is it good science?. And, the business model is in doubt. Why? No mention of why or how, just a blantant statement that it is. However, this is a statement that Southern Calfifornia Edison, and another CA utility company that is likely to also give SES a contract in the next few weeks (SES was selected twice over all other alternative energy companies that bid for those contracts), as well as the CA Public Utility Commission who has been supportive of the signing of these contracts, the US Dept of Energy and Sandia Labs apparently don't agree with.

By the way, the history of Harry Braun, who was at the co when I first invested, is that he got thrown out of the company by the Board. I don't know what is true or not. But, I do know that he then sued the company and then settled on SES buying back his stock. But, I do know he is now in the wind energy business, so has a vested interest in saying that this solar technology that he was so supportive of for many years, won't work.

In fact, this whole article seems to have been written by someone trying to trash a competitor. Sound to me like something that Rush Limbaugh would write: no facts, just assertions written as truth with no supporting basis, snide and deragatory just fo the sake of being so.

I have no solid evidence to support this, but it sure sounds to me like the wind industry might be feeling battered by the signing of this contract with Southern California Edison. Wind is not as economical, cost effective, or reliable as SES dishes, and doesn't provide electricity at peak times (during the day, when wind is not as stong as in the evenings) and sounds like it is a piece written by them to bash SES for it's own selfish purposes.

What a pile of you know what.
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