Apr
27
2008

Storing solar energy with salt

What is the best way to store solar energy?

Solar Two: Heat from the sun is stored in a tower containing molten salt.
Solar Two: Heat from the sun is stored in a tower containing molten salt.Courtesy United States Department of Energy
What is a good way to store solar energy for when the sun doesn't shine? Batteries are expensive and wear out. Instead of storing electricity, solar thermal systems store heat. A coffee thermos and a laptop computer’s battery store about the same amount of energy. The thermos costs about $5 and the laptop battery $150.

Molten salt at 1000+ degrees

By reflecting sunlight at a tall "power tower", tens of thousands of gallons of molten salt can be heated to very high temperatures (1000 degrees F). The heated salt is used to boil water into steam, spin a turbine and make electric power. By regulating the release of heat, generators can continue to run on rainy days and during the night.

"This technology has been successfully demonstrated and is ready for commercialization. From 1994 to 1999, the Solar Two project demonstrated the ability of solar molten salt technology to provide long-term, cost effective thermal energy storage for electricity generation."

SolarReserve will build solar thermal electric plants

SolarReserve, a company backed in part by United Technologies, is using funding from a U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop utility-scale solar thermal electric generating plants between 100-600 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt is enough power to supply approximately 1,000 US households. Read more at SolarReserves FAQ webpage.

Sources:
New York Times
SolarReserve website (includes a video)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Jefflemus00's picture
Jefflemus00 says:

I thought there was a buch of that stuff in the ocean?

posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 4:05pm
Kunicki24's picture
Kunicki24 says:

That is awesome, we really need to find other ways to porduce energy. And solar power is something that can help majorly...

posted on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 9:41am
hawa's picture
hawa says:

I know, that will be really awesome if they do that.

posted on Sun, 05/11/2008 - 8:41pm
Robert S. Mason's picture

I am a Solar Energy Provider (SEP). I install solar panel systems on homes and businesses for no cost to the consumer. In return, the energy provided by the panels gets used by the consumer and they in turn pay for the electricity they used! Just trying to make the world a greener place!

posted on Thu, 07/03/2008 - 1:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i need pictues of thermal enery gollly

posted on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:08pm
Alicia Matthews's picture

It's such a shame that the governments around the world spend so much on warfare compared to developing alternative solutions. I was just reading about solar lights and how they work.. It's such a clean source of energy. Thanks for sharing.

posted on Sat, 02/12/2011 - 7:19pm

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