Figure 12 then summarizes in a bar chart how the present inflatable structure heliostat technology can potentially reduce heliostat cost from $192 /sq.m. for a conventional glass heliostat to $67 /sq.m. for the inflatable structure heliostat. A bar is also shown for a state-of-the-art stretched membrane (non-inflatable) heliostat, such as those tested at Sandia National Laboratories. If these levels of heliostat cost reduction are truly achievable, this inflatable heliostat technology can clearly be instrumental in enabling large-scale commercial viability of solar thermal power, given that heliostats comprise the single largest cost element of solar thermal powerplants.
November 24, 2002