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

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

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


US Senate Democrats Unveil Energy Bill That Restores PTC and Extends ITC

Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that would provide more tax credits for renewable energy while killing some tax ince...

US, China Solar PV Players Team Up, Invest $100MM in Chile, Uruguay and Japan

Andrew Burger Private equity infrastructure specialist Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Hong Kong-based independent power producer ...

CEO Gilles: Challenge in Geothermal is to 'Level Playing Field' with Wind, Solar

Jennifer Delony The current challenge for the geothermal energy industry is what U.S. Geothermal CEO Dennis Gilles calls “leveling th...

NRG Energy to Form Renewable Unit, Sell Wind Assets to Yieldco

Mark Chediak and Matthew Monks, Bloomberg NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, said it will form a renewa...


Solar Power World Ranks Florida Solar One a Top 400 Solar Installer

Florida Solar One, a Miami Fort Lauderdale solar contractor is ranked among the top sol...

US Solar Institute Chosen for Military Solar Training at Patrick Air Force Base

In August 2015, the Air Force chose The US Solar Institute (USSI) for a specialized sol...

Canadian Solar Signs Agreement with Mashiki Town and Kumamoto Prefecture to Build 47 MW Solar Plant in Japan

Canadian Solar Signs Agreement for 47 MW Solar Plant

NC State University Installs Student-Funded Spotlight Solar Structure to Drive Awareness and Adoption of Clean Energy

North Carolina State University (NC State) will today showcase its commitment to clean ...



Geothermal Visual: GEA, Clean Energy Organizations Tell Congress: We Need Tax Extenders 'As Soon As Possible'

In a letter dated Oct. 5, over 580 signatories representing clean energy industries, including Geothermal Energy Asso...

Why the Solar PV Industry Should Love Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 3

It’s a marriage made in heaven: Solar PV and Geothermal Heat Pumps Part 3 of a 6-Part Series Geothermal Heat ...

Beyond Utility 2.0: Part 4 “Next Steps”

Principles, Structure, and Policies of Energy Democracy Energy democracy can best be described as an electricity sy...


Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.


Volume 18, Issue 4


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


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Canadian Solar Inverters Webinar

Canadian Solar is proud to be hosting two free webinars in October! The ...

JuiceBox Energy Certified Installer Class

JuiceBox Energy is rapidly building out its national certified installer...


How To Speak, How To Listen

As sales professionals, effective communication is paramount to our succ...

Get In The Habit

We all develop habits throughout our lives. Sometimes they’re bene...

Becoming An Efficiency Sales Professional

In order to become a sales professional, you must first realize that: E...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now