Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solar Sticks Its Energy "Where The Sun Don't Shine"

One of the big complaints about solar energy is that no matter how efficient the technology becomes, there still will not be any energy being produced at night or on a particularly cloudy day.

This concern has caused a lot of research to take place on the energy storage front, and today a big step has been taken towards storing solar energy to help combat against cloudy days and the night.  The US Federal Government has signed off on another large solar power plant which will make use of liquified salt to store energy:
A 100-foot receiver filled with liquid salt will be attached to the top of the tower. The heliostats will focus the sun on the receiver, heating the salt to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. The liquefied salt flows through a steam-generating system to drive the turbine and is returned to the receiver to be heated again.
This liquified salt holds its heat for a long period of time making it a good candidate for moving the turbines during cloudy moments and during the night.

It is a good first step towards addressing the non-consistent nature of alternative energy, however, the salt solution does little to help store energy that is generated from wind energy, so I think the big goal is to find a storage solution that can be applied to to both wind and solar.

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