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Molten-Salt Power Towers: Newly Commercial Concentrating Solar Storage

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3 Author(s)
Dunn, R.I. ; Australian Nat. Univ., Canberra, ACT, Australia ; Hearps, P.J. ; Wright, M.N.

Molten-salt storage is already commercially available for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, allowing solar power to be produced on demand and to “backup” variable renewable sources such as wind and photovoltaics. The first CSP plants to operate commercially with molten-salt storage utilized parabolic trough concentrators, for example, the Andasol-1 plant. A new type of storage plant has now reached commercial status, with the 19.9-MWe Torresol Gemasolar power tower, featuring 15 h of molten-salt storage, having come online in Spain in May 2011. Advantages of the power tower storage system include the elimination of heat transfer oil and associated heat exchangers, a lower salt requirement, higher steam cycle efficiency, better compatibility with air cooling, improved winter performance, and simplified piping schemes. Near-term advances in molten-salt power tower technology include planned up-scaling, with SolarReserve due to begin constructing a 110-MWe plant in Nevada by August 2011. Other advances include improvements to the thermal properties of molten salts and the development of storage solutions in a single tank. With these developments at hand, CSP will continue to provide dispatchable solar power, with the capacity to provide energy storage for 100% renewable electricity grids in sun-belt countries.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:100 ,  Issue: 2 )