Free-piston Stirling cycle engines and generators are currently available on a prototype basis for development and technology evaluation programs. Work is under way to have several sizes of generators mass produced. Full scale production of STC's 1 kW generator is planned for the year 2002, with limited production of the 3 kW generator to follow.

Early commercial engines will have higher capital costs than IC generators, but lower than initial costs for PV and thermoelectric systems. Despite the higher start-up costs, however, Stirling generators can be more cost-effective than even IC engine generators on a life cycle basis. The higher efficiency of the Stirling engine and lack of significant maintenance requirements bring the operating costs down to levels below most other distributed generation technologies.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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