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This Could Be the World's Most Efficient Solar System

A Swedish company claims that this small-scale concentrated solar energy system -- which leans on ideas from a 19th-century Scottish clergyman -- converts 34 percent of sunlight into electricity. That could make it the most efficient solar system in the world.

The Guardian reports that the system -- currently being tested by its makers, RiPasso Energy, in the Kalahari Desert -- uses 100 square-meter dishes to focus the sun's light to a single, hot point. The heat then drives a Stirling engine, first developed by Robert Stirling in 1816, which uses alternate heating and cooling of a closed volume of gas to drive a piston and, in turn, flywheel to generate electricity. The dishes swing on their axes during the day in order to capture as much light as possible.

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