The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the selections of projects to receive up to US$62 million over five years for research into Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems capable of providing low-cost electrical power.
This funding will support improvements in CSP systems, components, and thermal energy storage to accelerate the market-readiness of this renewable energy technology.
CSP plants can include low-cost energy storage, allowing them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining. The funded projects will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation to an average of about 18 hours per day – allowing CSP plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants.
The selected projects include:
- Abengoa Solar, Inc. (MCE:ABG) will develop a new power tower technology that captures heat in a high-temperature receiver at the top of an elevated tower. The system will focus the sun’s rays to the tower using a 360-degree, surround reflector field on the ground and collect the heat in a salt fluid. Abengoa is currently the only company with a full-scale, operational power tower and is striving to ready it for commercial deployment.
- eSolar, Inc. will design, build, and test a CSP power plant system with multiple modular towers instead of one central tower and receiver.
- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (NYSE:UTX) will explore new materials for the central power tower receiver – including a novel thermal storage system.
- General Atomics will study the feasibility of supplying reliable power using a CSP plant integrated with sulfur-based energy storage.
- Infinia Corporation is developing a large-scale thermal energy storage solution that will be essentially maintenance-free and can store large amounts of energy in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
- PPG Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PPG) will develop a larger reflector with increased reflectivity and durability – thus reducing the CSP plant’s biggest expense, cleaning and replacing the mirrors.
- University of South Florida will develop and demonstrate an innovative thermal energy storage system based on materials that absorb heat when changing from a solid to a liquid and release heat when changing from a liquid to a solid.
- Wilson TurboPower, Inc. is utilizing a small transportable turbine power system in a modular CSP solar power tower configuration.
Image courtesy of afloresm via Wikimedia Commons
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