The ‘solar steam’ system consists of panels which are designed to focus the sun’s rays onto metal tubes filled with water. The heat is used to generate steam to drive an electricity generator.
The panels are mounted on a rig which will rotate to track the movement of the sun through the sky during the day.
The purpose of the experiment is to test the equipment in British climatic conditions before applying it to markets in warmer countries where there is sunshine for longer periods of the year.
At full scale the hope is for the system to be used alongside traditional power stations which raise steam by burning fossil fuels. The solar steam can be fed to the power station generators so that fuel will need to be burned only at night or on days when solar power is not enough to meet demand. The system may also be able to be applied to desalinating sea water or purifying polluted water.
Karl Hick, Larkfleet Group chief executive, said: “The solar steam rig provides an opportunity for investigation into a new method of low carbon energy generation and is just another example of Larkfleet’s commitment to innovation and energy efficiency.
“Larkfleet will use this as a research and development opportunity and hopes to gain a better understanding of the technology involved and its possible uses. This is very much a long-term project – we will trial the technology fully over the next couple of years before coming to any conclusions about the potential for future use.”