This report details the outcomes of the project involving the CSIRO working with Spanish company Abengoa to find cost-effective ways to collect and store heat from sunlight.
Cost-effective thermal storage systems are required if solar thermal energy is to make a significant contribution to Australia’s electricity generating sector and to supply the energy requirements of its energy-intensive industries. The development of reliable and effective storage systems for concentrated solar power plants will give them the dispatchability to meet peak demands.
CSIRO and Abengoa Solar New Technologies S.A. have therefore been collaborating on a project designed to demonstrate proof-of-concept of the integration of a solar thermal storage system with a solar energy concentrator/receiver facility to store high grade heat that, at a subsequent commercial scale, could be used on demand by electricity generators and other industrial processes.
The upper temperature limit of existing solar thermal storage systems based on the use of conventional molten salts, such as sodium/potassium nitrates, is 565 degrees celcius.
However, additional opportunities involving higher efficiency power generating cycles, would be created for solar thermal technologies if this upper limit could be significantly extended.