The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

DOE Awards $10 Million for Concentrating Solar Power Storage Research

The Department of Energy announced Wednesday it has awarded $10 million to be split between six research and development projects that will focus on thermochemical storage technologies for concentrating solar power (CSP) systems.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of President Obama’s recent pledge to make 2014 a watershed year for solar energy.

The recipients of the Energy Department’s funding are the Colorado School of Mines, UCLA, the University of Florida, the Southern Research Institute, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory. All will work on the development of “novel thermochemical energy storage systems” with the goal of achieving greater levels of efficiency in the storage of higher temperature, higher density solar energy. 

“The six projects that are funded are looking at three different classes of thermochemical systems,” said Dr. Ranga Pitchumani, chief scientist and concentrating solar power program manager for the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. “These include carbonates, hydrites and perovskite materials.”

CSP technology employs mirrors that concentrate reflected sunlight onto receivers containing heat transfer fluids. From there, the fluids are used to heat water, which in turn generates the steam that is used to power turbines. Pitchumani said the funded explorations will not only increase the capacity of heat transfer fluids to sustain energy for longer periods of time, but will also result in driving down the cost of utility-scale CSP.

“Thermochemical energy requires very compact storage and uses less materials, which cuts cost,” Pitchumani said, adding that CSP with thermal energy storage is “a key enabling technology” in the nation’s future energy generation mix. 

Though the industry faces some challenges, one of the differentiating factors that sets CSP apart from other methods of renewable energy power generation — including standard PV technology — is that when combined with thermal energy storage technology, it is able to produce electricity around the clock. Additionally, CSP can be adapted to work with traditional fossil-fuel power plants in hybrid scenarios that have been shown to dramatically decrease associated emissions. 

Pitchumani calls this a win-win scenario for all. “There is a tremendous potential for CSP to go through hybridization with fossil fuel plants,” he said. “CSP with thermal energy storage enables greater penetration and also works synergistically with our existing traditional assets.” 

In addition to the announcement of its $10 million award, the Department of Energy also released a report titled “2014: The Year of Concentrating Solar Power” which identifies five U.S.-based CSP plants that are expected to be fully operational within the year. These include the Crescent Dunes, Ivanpah, Genesis, Mojave and Solana CSP plants. Ivanpah, Crescent Dunes and Genesis began operations earlier this year and Solana started sending power to the grid in late 2013. Once all are in operation, their combined total electricity generation will be 1.26 GW — a figure that will effectively quadruple preexisting U.S. concentrating solar power capacity.

“This is a very critical and exciting juncture,” Pitchumani said. “It’s a tremendous time to build on this momentum, and to take the technology forward to meeting the SunShot Initiative’s 2020 goal.”

Lead image: CSP mirrors via Shutterstock

RELATED ARTICLES

Canadian Climate Goals

Canada Announces Weak Climate Target

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Last week, Canada has announced its contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases by announcing its post-2020 target. The target announced today is off-track to the 80 percent cut by 2050 they committed to in...
Renewable Energy Stocks

What Drives Alternative Energy Stocks?

Harris Roen, The Roen Financial Report Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at...
Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.
Japan Microgrid

Born from Disaster: Japan Establishes First Microgrid Community

Junko Movellan, Correspondent Although Japan's Fukushima prefecture is most commonly associated with the 2011 disaster due to the nuclear power melt-down, Miyazaki prefecture, located north of Fukushima, suffered from the largest death toll, close to 10...
Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at www.vincefont.com or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

Sponsor/Exhibitor: MIREC Week 2015

Solectria, Pillar, and Variadores together are co-Silver Sponsors! Come ...

More Power, More Profit Tour - San Diego

Register for the SMA More Power, More Profit Tour for free, in-person sa...

COMPANY BLOGS

EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

The Question Trilogy

    It’s crucial to learn what your prospect needs from...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS