A New Type of Hybrid: Exploring the Possibility of Hybrid Powerplants

Photo courtesy of davipt | Flickr.com

If someone were to ask what you know about hybrid technology, it would probably be automatic for you to connect the use of electrical power combined with gasoline as a fuel source for vehicles.  Professor Avi Kribus of Israel’s Tel Aviv University (TAU) is working towards adding another, much larger development to the hybrid category. 

Professor Kribus is applying research to the hopeful formation of hybrid power plants, rather than focusing solely on transportation.  His main area of interest in alternative energies lies in the creation of solar thermal power.  As opposed to combusting fossil fuels, solar thermal power plants generate the movement of a turbine from the high temperatures and pressure we can capture from the sun’s energy,

Despite being an expensive option, solar thermal energy is among the cleanest energy methods in the industry, which is of course accompanied by huge operating costs to sustain high energy outputs.  Hybridizing this approach, however, with the use of conventional fuel is what makes Kribus’ option a more affordable way of investing in environmentally-friendly power plants.

In order to transform the idea into a realistic solution, Kribus illustrates how the fundamentals of solar thermal power plant technology can be modified to create longer-lasting, cost-effective, safer power plant environments with reduced output of emissions.   While sunlight is typically harvested to create high-pressure steam of 400-500oC, solar energy is instead converted to temperatures of around 200oC to maintain the integrity of all specialized metal pipes and components of the plant.  It additionally enables the use of low-cost solar collectors, without substantially compromising the efficiency of energy production.

Exempting the fact that this approach isn’t entirely green, I think it should be carefully considered for the notable advantages it has over the vast majority of our current power plants, before being criticized.   Based on past research, the cost of new technology is one of the most superior factors preventing alternative energy ideas from being established in the present day.  More research, even apart from Professor Kribus’ creative innovation to power plants, should start assessing how to devise hybrid-based products and methods that can bring sustainable change faster due to their realistic potential.