Some may doubt Iran’s intentions with nuclear power, but it’s hard to argue with these results on their solar intent. The Shiraz solar power plant was recently completed, and produces a modest 250 kilowatts of electricity. The completion is four years behind schedule, but breaks new ground in its design.
Rather than photo cells, their first solar energy plant is solar-thermal. Parabolic mirrors create a trough that cradles a tube that runs its entire length. The mirrors gather and focus the sunlight onto the tube. Within that tube, a liquid transfers the heat of the sun to a generator that produces steam and electricity.
The plant was constructed of domestic materials and labor there in Shiraz, within the Fars province. This solar-thermal electric plant is the first to generate electricity, but Iran already has some 4000 smaller solar-thermal installations throughout the country, providing solar-heated water for residents and public baths.
One 40-home village in Iran gets its power from photovoltaic cells, but in the overall Iran is focusing on solar-thermal technology. Part of their wisdom is likely in that they can produce the entire array domestically with thermal-solar, rather than purchasing photovoltaic equipment from other nations. Their independence is inspiring, and may go a long way towards explaining their insistence upon developing their own nuclear power as well.
For a nation to develop and produce their own domestic system in this fashion is commendable. We salute Iran for their efforts in going Green!