Has a Saskatoon firm found the Holy Grail of renewable energy?Inventor Tom Beck is having trouble containing himself.
The president and CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. of SHEC SHEC Safety Health Environment Committee Energy Corporation is sitting on a small bundle of big secrets that, together, could prove to be a game changer in the solar energy space. Beck says his technological breakthroughs hold promise to move solar from a daytime supplementary energy source most commonly associated with banks of photovoltaic cells stationed on home rooftops--to a baseload energy source capable of powering cities twice the size of Regina or Saskatoon Saskatoon (săskətn`), city (1991 pop. 186,058), S central Sask., Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River. , and larger.
"It's going to change the world," says Beck. "I'm very excited."
Traditional photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly into electricity and store it in batteries. SHEC's concentrating solar power (CSP (1) (Certified Systems Professional) An earlier award for successful completion of an ICCP examination in systems development. See ICCP.
(2) (Commerce Service P ) system uses a parabolic par·a·bol·ic also par·a·bol·i·cal
1. Of or similar to a parable.
2. Of or having the form of a parabola or paraboloid. dish of light-weight mirrors to focus sunlight hot enough to burn a hole through steel. The temperature is regulated in a receiver that transfers heat at tip to 850 C to a liquid medium. That's about 250 C higher than any competitor has achieved, says Beck. The liquid circulates by pipe through a granular storage material that's one of a handful of proprietary or soon-to-be patented technologies. Since the power is stored as heat rather than electricity, it's available to produce power 24 hours a day, except in prolonged cloudy conditions. For those occasions, fossil fuel backup could he deployed.
But you wouldn't need another power plant to do that," Reck is quick to add. "It's a thermal plant. We use heat energy from the sun and we can use heat energy from fossil fuels, too."
It's not every day someone tells you they have a plan to change the world. It's the kind of claim that might be greeted with a bit of skepticism, especially when its purveyor is raising money to support his project. But many also doubted the barefooted, longhaired Steve Jobs when he went shaking trees in search of funds to pursue his dream. Indeed, while Beck is well shod shod
Past tense and a past participle of shoe.
a past of shoe
Adj. 1. and shorn shorn
A past participle of shear.
a past participle of shear
Adj. 1. , lie compares SHEC's story to that of the late Jobs.
"We're kind of like Apple in that we not only build the computer, but we build the software ... we build everything to make the system work, except for the turbine," he says, adding other solar companies are one-component manufacturers.
Trained in computer science and electronics, Beck worked in industries ranging from solar and robotics to telecommunications and software programming before launching a hydrogen fuel company a number of years ago. The firm used solar thermal energy to make hydrogen for the fuel cells Beck hoped would be used to help reduce the kind of air pollution he experienced as a kid growing up in Calgary. But when tanking natural gas prices killed sonic of the company's specialty markets, he shifted focus to his new endeavour in 2008. Many of the ideas and processes used in SH EC's CSP system have their genesis in the high-temperature technologies he developed for his hydrogen fuel project.
Funding is SHEC's biggest challenge. The company, which employs six people in Saskatoon and a number of contractors doing market development in other countries, has raised approximately $1.6 million in cash and kind, most of it coming from about 1,100 private shareholders. The German government has pledged matching funds of 25 million (about S33 million CAD) if SHEC's technology proves solid. In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile , investment hankers in New York and California have pitched SHEC to some of the largest corporations in the world, and Beck says the big players are "extremely interested." It all depends on whether his company can produce baseload solar power as inexpensively as it claims.
SH EC's thermal storage technologies have the potential to slash the cost of solar power to as low as 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour. That's less than half the cost of traditional PV solar power using battery storage, and Beck points out batteries have to be replaced about every three years. By comparison, coal, the cheapest and perhaps most polluting of the fossil fuels, costs about 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Beck says government and industry representatives from around the world have expressed interest in this technology, an interest experienced first-hand by SHEC Energy vice President Terry Stott during a recent track mission to Bangladesh with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
But Beck understands the proof is in the pudding.
"Some people will be skeptical and they'll have the attitude, 'well, show me: We intend to do that."