CSP benefits from energy storage

The new molten salt parabolic trough CSP demonstration plant in Massa Martana, Italy. Photo credit: Chiyoda Corporation

The new molten salt parabolic trough CSP demonstration plant in Massa Martana, Italy. Photo credit: Chiyoda Corporation

Concentrated solar power (CSP) has one key advantage over the ever-cheapening photovoltaic (PV) competition: the ability to directly integrate thermal energy storage (TES) and thus provide dispatchable energy.

It’s perhaps with this in mind that Italy’s Archimede Solar Energy and Japan’s Chiyoda are collaborating to build a parabolic trough demonstration plant that uses molten salt as both a heat transfer fluid (HTF) and thermal energy storage medium.

Currently, commercial parabolic-trough power plants use thermal oil as a HTF, with external molten salt tanks at a temperature lower than 400°C. The new 600-metre-long test loop, equipped with five hours TES, is to be operated using molten salts only, at temperatures above 550°C, allowing the plant to operate much more efficiently than its precursors.

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