Solar thermal electric power has been much more in the renewable energy news, which generates greater interest in cost effective means to store the intermittent supply.

The solar thermal system will use molten salt to store the sun’s heat and release it in a controlled manner for steady steam turbine power generation.

In reporting upon one effort to commercialize a solar thermal electric power plant, Philadelphian Treehugger John Laumer opines that a molten salt system looks to be very efficient at heat storage. A molten salt system is a means to store thermal energy, thus mitigating the problem of an intermittent source for generating electricity at night or during cloudy weather.

Hamilton Sundstrand officials say the solar-power business will be managed through a new entity called SolarReserve, which will hold the exclusive license to market and operate utility-scale solar-power plants world-wide. Under the agreement with US Renewables Group, Hamilton Sundstrand’s Rocketdyne segment will provide heat-resistant pumps and other equipment, as well as the expertise in handling and storing salt that has been heated to more than 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says plants using this method will be able to generate as much as 500 megawatts of peak power or run continuously at 50 megawatts. One megawatt is enough power to supply about 1,000 U.S. households.

Another advocate of molten salt systems for thermal storage of energy collected by CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) is green energy investments adviser Tom Konrad. Konrad and Khosla endorse utility-scale solar thermal electric power combined with thermal storage for addressing both base and peak load.
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