Molten Salt Energy Storage Making Strides


SolarReserve is developing technology to make a solar system with 24-hr power generating capacity. The system relies on molten salt for its efficiency.

In 2015, SolarReserve opened 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar energy facility. It has 1,100 megawatt-hours of energy storage, and the facility can power up to 75,000 Nevada homes. The company intends to maintain several concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities, which are planned for use in Australia, Chilé, and more countries around the world, especially throughout Africa.

These facilities that utilize molten salt can store energy for up to 10 hours. Sunshine is concentrated in a tower by a field of mirrors and heats the salt to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, the concentrated heat is used to generate steam which turns a turbine. The Crescent Dunes plant can generate power for $0.06 per kilowatt hour.

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation Board are very supportive of the Aurora Solar Energy Project (Photo Business Wire)

Crescent Dunes is supposed to generate 500,000 MWh a year, but Inside Climate News reported that it has not cleared that bar.

Sener, a Spanish engineering company, has two similar projects in development for Ouarzazate, Morocco. Google’s parent company is also developing technology to use molten salt for energy storage.

SolarReserve’s Redstone project in South Africa. Image via SolarReserve

Although the technology is interesting, buyers are not as interested in 24-hr renewable energy. Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, told Inside Climate News that U.S. utilities “just wanted kilowatt-hours. They didn’t care about when they got them.”

“We believe now is the rebirth of the CSP market. And it’s all about storage,” said Smith.

Title Photo via SolarReserve


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