Everyone wants a solar plant that can generate power 24/7, in fact some consider the ability to generate solar power at night the Holy Grail. Well, time to drink of the healing water because a Spanish solar plant has found a way to make a solar plant generate power throughout the night – using energy storage.
The massive solar plant takes up 457 acres of beautiful Spanish countryside. However, it puts these acres to good use placing large mirrors in circles around a central tower at which they can direct their sunlight.
The development of the project was done Torresol Energy – a joint project done by the energy companies Sener and Masdar. The technology is different from many other focused solar thermal plants. Instead of heating and burning oil the Gemsolar plant heats molten salt. As the salt heats up it gives off steam that is then used to power a turbine. The brilliant part about the design is that the intense amount of heat directed to the molten salt will create a lot of excess heat which can then be stored in a molten salt tank to be used for power during the night – or when the weather gets cloudy.
Due to the fact that no fuel is burned, the solar plant will likely save close to 30,000 in carbon emissions each year. It will do this while producing close to 20 megawatts of energy and providing 27,500 households in Southern Spain with clean solar power.
Perhaps the most exciting part about this is that the technology will likely come to the United State sand other major countries soon. I should have more information on the specifics in the coming days or weeks.
The new mass solar plant designs are innovative, but not a replacement for the older rooftop solar panels. All these are necessary to power our society. Any new form of clean energy must be welcomed into the fold. Let us hope this new tower rises over countryside’s everywhere soon.
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