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The solar engine that could

Sterling Energy Systems announced an agreement with Southern California Edison on Thursday to build a solar power facility capable of generating 500 megawatts of power. It will be installed over 4,500 acres in the Mojave desert north of Los Angeles.

The system calls for the installation of the company's 37-foot-high dishes which reflect sun into a tube of a Sterling engine where hydrogen is kept. The heat from the sun is focused on hydrogen, which expands and creates enough pressure to turn a piston and crank shaft.

Sterling Energy Systems is testing another installation with Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. The reports more on the people and business model behind the Phoenix-based start-up.

More commonly used solar installations use photovoltaic cells to convert the sun's energy to electricity.

Meanwhile, FedEx turned the switch on a large solar installation in Oakland, California last week. According to an article in, the FedEx-owned installation will 904 kilowatts of electricity and be the largest corporate-owned solar installation in California.