SolarReserve chases even hotter molten salt

SolarReserve, the solar thermal power plant developer, intends to dramatically increase the temperature of molten salt storage with a grant from the SunShot Initiative. Photo credit: Crescent Dunes, SolarReserve

SolarReserve, the solar thermal power plant developer, intends to dramatically increase the temperature of molten salt storage with a grant from the SunShot Initiative. Photo credit: Crescent Dunes, SolarReserve

By Jason Deign

SolarReserve, the solar thermal plant developer, is going after molten salt storage systems of more than 700ºC with a USD$2.4m award from the US government.

The award, announced last Wednesday, comes from the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative’s Concentrating Solar Power: Advanced Projects Offering Low LCOE Opportunities (CSP: APOLLO) programme.

It will be used with matching funds from SolarReserve and other commercial partners to develop a new form of high-temperature ceramic receiver, according to Tim Connor, SolarReserve’s vice president of engineering and technology.

This “breaks through current temperature and performance barriers, while meaningfully increasing efficiency, energy storage capabilities and lowering capital cost,” Connor said in a press release.

The receiver technology should raise operating temperatures in molten salt power tower solar thermal plants by some 300ºC from a current maximum of around 565ºC.
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Abengoa: could molten salt do peaker job?

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as a replacement to gas peaker plants.

Abengoa solar thermal energy storage systems having proved successful in the US, the company is now also marketing standalone molten salt storage systems as replacements for gas peaker plants. Photo credit: Abengoa

By Jason Deign

Abengoa, perhaps best known for massive solar thermal plant such as Solana and Mojave, is pitching standalone molten salt storage systems and solar generation-connected thermal storage as a replacement for gas peakers.

The multinational infrastructure developer is already marketing standalone storage projects in the US, Abengoa confirmed in an interview with Energy Storage Report in the run-up to Energy Storage USA 2015 next week.

“Given the experience we have with existing plants [Solana has six hours of molten salt storage], thermal standalone storage is already at commercialisation stage,” said Amparo Pazos Cousillas, director of sales and marketing for Abengoa Solar in the US.
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Arizona’s answer to the US carbon headache?

Energy storage in Arizona should see huge growth if new procurement proposals from the state utility APS and RUCO are approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Photo: Abengoa, Solana solar power station

Energy storage in Arizona should see huge growth if new procurement proposals from the state utility APS and RUCO become part of Arizona’s energy policy. Photo credit: Abengoa, Solana solar power plant

Arizona could become the next big market for energy storage if a settlement agreed last month gets the go-ahead from regulators. And in doing so it could help lead the way in overcoming an energy headache facing a number of American states. As reported in Greentechgrid, state utility Arizona Public Service (APS) and the state’s Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) have agreed that the electricity company should evaluate energy storage as an alternative to peaker plants going forward.

The measure, which still needs to be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), essentially allows storage, along with renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and demand response, to compete with peakers on a like-for-like basis.

“RUCO’s proposed conditions establish a procurement process for consideration of alternative resources, including single or multiple storage projects through 2021,” says the submission to the ACC.
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Solar thermal energy storage loses its way

Does phase-change material storage have advantages over molten salt thermal energy storage for a concentrated solar power plant? Photo credit: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, SolarReserve

Is phase-change material storage better than molten salt thermal energy storage for a concentrated solar power plant? Photo: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, SolarReserve

Too much salt is not just bad for your health. It could also harm the likelihood of thermal energy storage (TES) cost reduction across the entire concentrated solar power (CSP) industry.

Right now, molten salt TES is seen as critical in justifying the high cost of CSP versus other renewable energy sources, such as solar PV or wind.

TES allows CSP, or solar thermal energy, to deliver stable, round-the-clock power, which is more valuable to grid operators than the intermittent generation provided by renewable alternatives.

But it is just possible that a growing preference for molten salt among CSP developers could hamper the chances of adopting more efficient and cost-effective types of TES.
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Energy storage news: 18.06.14

Abengoa, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Colorado School of Mines have been chosen by the US Department of Energy to research and develop new solar energy storage technology for thermo-electric plants.

The US DoE chooses Abengoa, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines to research and develop solar energy storage for thermo-electric plants. Photo: Colorado School of Mines

The leading energy storage news headlines from our Twitter feed this week.

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Molten salt thermal energy storage to grow steadily

Thermal energy storage has been cited as one of the most convincing ways of housing a large amount of excess energy for a usefully long period of time. In other words, it makes for great grid-level energy storage. The current largest project, the Andasol plant in Spain, has sufficient storage to produce 150MW for up to 7.5 hours. The Solana plant under construction in Arizona will be able to provide over 250MW of power for up to eight hours. And although not dramatic, the figures for the sector are looking good, according to TechNavio’s analysts.

They forecast that the global molten salt market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.25% over the period between 2012 and 2016, in their new report. The usual factors for the renewable sector seem to be at play, according to the analysis in the report: positive growth as a result of investment, which includes government subsidies. On the other hand, there is a note of caution at the threat of those subsidies being withdrawn.

According to TechNavio, the key vendors in the sector at the moment are Abengoa Solar, Areva, General Electric and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.