A Solar Thermal First: Power Around The Clock

Solar power’s perennial weakness – its inability to provide electricity after nightfall or during cloudy weather – might be vanishing: The Spanish company Torresol Energy said its solar thermal plant in Seville was recently able to pump out electricity uninterrupted for 24 consecutive hours.

The Gemasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucía – which began operating barely a month ago – was able to keep the juice flowing using an innovative technique that stores energy in molten salt. This allows for up to 15 hours of electricity production in the absence of solar radiation, stretching the plant’s production into the night and keeping it running during heavy cloud cover.

Torresol Energy Gemasolar solar thermal plant

image via Torresol Energy

While the plant, which can produce enough power to supply 25,000 homes, was able to pull off an around-the-clock cycle of power production, Torresol said it doesn’t expect that level of production all the time. “The high performance of the installations coincided with several days of excellent solar radiation which made it possible for the hot-salt storage tank to reach full capacity,” said Diego Ramírez, director of production at Torresol. “We’re hoping that in the next few days our supply to the network will reach an average of 20 hours a day.”

The 19.9-megwatt capacity Gemasolar plant uses a “power tower” system, with 2,650 mirrors bouncing sunlight to the top of a 140-meter tower at the center of the circle of mirrors. Torresol said a super-efficient receiver absorbs 95 percent of the radiation aimed at it, heating molten salts inside the tower to more than 500 degrees Celsius. The hot molten salts are then stored for use when the sun goes down or when clouds move in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roger-Nobles/579837858 Roger Nobles

    Awesome innovation, this is the type of genius that comes through acceptance, focus, confidence, and support.u00a0 If we can just convince the United States to become as thoughtful and encouraging, we too can share in progressive technology to help make this nation and the world a healthier, happier, cleaner place to live for present and future generations.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYQ5ONDQEGUCUR77ZEJQZPCXKQ Laurence

      This is definitely a major advancement in solar energy but your comment is a little spiteful towards the US role in green innovation.u00a0 You are obviously clueless about any of the technology behind this plant so let me educate you.u00a0 If it were not for innovations of The Solar Project ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Solar_Project ), then this new plant would not be possible.u00a0 Much of the funding for theu00a0 ground breaking Solar One and Solar Two projects came from the US Department of Energy, other sponsors were also US based.nStraight from the WiKi – “Due to the success of Solar Two, a commercial power plant, called Solar Tres Power Tower, is being built in Spain by Torresol Energy using Solaru00a0One and Solaru00a0Two’s technology”.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYQ5ONDQEGUCUR77ZEJQZPCXKQ Laurence

      This is definitely a major advancement in solar energy but your comment is a little spiteful towards the US role in green innovation.u00a0 You are obviously clueless about any of the technology behind this plant so let me educate you.u00a0 If it were not for innovations of The Solar Project ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Solar_Project ), then this new plant would not be possible.u00a0 Much of the funding for theu00a0 ground breaking Solar One and Solar Two projects came from the US Department of Energy, other sponsors were also US based.nStraight from the WiKi – “Due to the success of Solar Two, a commercial power plant, called Solar Tres Power Tower, is being built in Spain by Torresol Energy using Solaru00a0One and Solaru00a0Two’s technology”.

    • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

      Agreed!

  • http://twitter.com/pilikaninitiati pilikaninitiative

    A Solar Thermal First:Power Around The Clock in Seville

  • http://www.yellowbluedesigns.com Jessica Janes

    Molten salt? I had no idea. Initially the focused design made me think it might be a religious symbol or an art object. Upon reading your article, I found out it is to create create a device to capture the reflection which is transferred to salt. Like Roger said, hope we adopt this innovative technology in North America. Great concept and design.

    • http://www.earthtechling.com/ earthtechling

      Agreed x2