Gallery: Spain’s Gemasolar Array is the World’s First 24/7 Solar Power ...

 

Torresol Energy has overcome one of solar energy’s biggest challenges: operating when the sun doesn’t shine. The 19.9 MW Gemasolar concentrated solar power plant in Spain’s Andalucia province has two tanks of molten salt (MSES) that store heat energy generated throughout the day. Unlike normal plants that have less thermal storage or none at all, this stored energy enables Torresol to satisfy peak summer energy demand long after sunset. A joint venture between Spanish giant Sener and Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s Future Energy Company, the Gemasolar plant has hurdled one of alternative energy’s biggest obstacles. Check out a video of the operation after the jump!

The MSES consists of 60% potassium nitrate and 40% sodium nitrate. This mixture has the amazing ability to retain 99% of the heat energy generated by the CSP plant to be reused later. Essentially what Forbes calls a “battery” that lasts for about 15 hours – more than double Andasol I’s 7 hour capacity – the MSES is not considered especially toxic to the environment.

Gemasolar is expected to produce approximately 110,000 MWh of energy each year – enough to power 25,000 homes. Although a 19.9 MW plant is relatively small, this functions on par with a 50MW plant that lacks decent storage since it can feed the grid all of the time. Designed to operate 6,500 hours annually, this latest development in super-duper CSP plants opened in May, 2011.

+ Torresol

Via Forbes

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7 Comments

  1. rolandcontreras December 27, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Excellent thinking! I guess the cycling number must be very large and perhaps dependent on the purity of the salt?

  2. tloudev August 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    About 2 years ago I have heard about “night solar” energy from Spain a lot ;-)

  3. brodyshores July 30, 2011 at 11:37 am

    This is absolutely beautiful. I don’t think there is a large investment in solor power because it is a resources people arent taking very seriously because it comes with too many constraints, unlike power from coal or oil that can be produced 24/7 and at a greater capacity. Solor power requires people to be more self concious about usage and when they use the power, something we are too selfish to conform to just yet. WE ARE GETTING THERE THOUGH!

  4. risom.de July 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

    An uptime of 75% is not really that bad, for example the average uptime of all German nuclear reactors is about 80%(http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_Kernreaktoren_in_Deutschland).

  5. caeman June 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I am thinking the 6,500 hours is referring to the MSES system.

  6. berova June 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    6,500 hrs annually equates to being online just under 75% of the time. What parts require maintenance about 25% of the time? Can they made to be relatively quickly “swappable”? Or are those “parts” so expensive, it’s not cost effective for the benefit of being operating the other 25% of the time?

  7. caeman June 23, 2011 at 8:55 am

    That is so cool!

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