Friday, December 28, 2012

Solar Salt Storage

Fossil-fuel proponents often say that solar can't run at night and solar can't run the economy. This might be true without a storage technology, but companies such as Ausra are looking at solutions.

Their solar collectors employ mass-produced and thus cheaper flat mirrors, and they focus light onto tubes filled with water, thus directly producing steam which can be used to generate electricity.
solar-thermal plants are a solution because storing heat is much easier than storing electricity. It is estimated that solar-thermal plants capable of storing 16 hours' worth of heat could provide more than 90 percent of current U.S. power demand at prices competitive with coal and natural gas.

Heat storage is more efficient than electricity storage. Just 2 to 7 percent of the energy is lost when heat is banked in a storage system, compared with losses of at least 15 percent when energy is stored in a battery

The typical method for storing the heat is to use molten-salt storage. Molten salts are inexpensive salt solutions that absorb considerable energy when they melt and give up that energy when they freeze.
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