Solar power is a great idea but what happens at night? Or on a very cloudy day? Since solar power fluctuates with the sun’s strength, a new technology is under development in the deserts of Tonopah, Nevada that will effectively store solar energy in the form of molten salt. Pretty cool, huh?
One of the greatest problems of large scale solar power facilities is that they do not produce electricity at night, and when they do produce power, it is constantly fluctuating with the sun’s strength. Under development in the deserts of Tonopah, Nevada is a new technology that will effectively store solar energy in the form of molten salt. When the sun goes down, thermal energy from the salt will be able to produce electricity for eight to ten hours.
The new facility, known as the SolarReserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant, is expected to be operational by 2013. Rather than directly converting sunlight to electricity through photovoltaic panels, it will utilize solar thermal. A vast array of mirrors will direct concentrated sunlight to a single point to boil water which will then power a steam turbine. The boiling water will also be used to heat salt which has the capacity to store energy.