While adoption of solar energy steps up around the world, two key challenges remain: how to store the energy created during the day so it can be used through the night and how to dispatch the energy to where it is needed. Both of these problems may be solved by coupling molten salt with concentrating solar power (CSP), according to a June 26 article in Renewable Energy World.
You will recall from previous CleanTechnica postings that CSP technology concentrates the sun’s power to create steam, which turns a turbine to make electricity. But how did molten salt get into the picture?
“Terry Murphy, Chief Executive Officer for SolarReserve, who along with others helped develop the molten salt technology at Rocketdyne. ‘Molten salt is a heat storage medium that retains thermal energy very effectively over time and operates at temperatures greater than 1000°F, which matches well with the most efficient steam turbines. Second, it remains in a liquid state throughout the plant’s operating regime, which will improve long-term reliability and reduce operation and maintenance costs. And third, it’s totally ‘green,’ molten salt is a non-toxic, readily available material…..’”
Molten salt storage was a key component of the Solar Grand Plan, published in Scientific American in December 2007, which outlined a plan to supply 69% of U.S. electricity and 35% of its total energy by 2050. The Grand Plan, written by By Ken Zweibel, James Mason and Vasilis Fthenakis, proposes molten salt storage concentrating solar, among other proven technologies, and calls for an aggressive plan of government subsidies to allow solar energy to compete fairly with oil and other fossil fuels.
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Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.