Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Solar and the Global Energy Storage Race

The widely distributed nature of renewable energy sources has led to a burgeoning demand for grid scale energy storage technology.  Such technology enables electricity to be fed easily and efficiently into centralized power grids. SolarReserve, a California based, private equity backed startup is  planning to leap ahead of the competition with its molten salt storage technique.
SolarReserve's 110-megawatt concentrated solar power (CSP) project known as Crescent Dunes launches in mid 2014 in the Nevada desert. SolarReserve licensed its technology from the aerospace firm Rocketdyne. They use thousands of mirrors mounted on a tower to focus sunlight onto a single point creating enormous heat. This heat is used to generate steam that causes the electricity producing turbine to spin.
SolarReserve has a 25 year PPA (power purchase agreement) with the local utility company Nevada Energy.  Even though competitor's like BrightSource use tower based designs, they don't have an energy storage component in their projects.  The SolarReserve project will be the first commercial-scale CSP project with storage.
However, BrightSource Ivanpah CSP project in California will be the world’s largest CSP plant, toppling the current title holder the Shams 1 CSP plant in Abu Dhabhi.
The race to commercialize grid scale energy storage technology is highly competitive with companies working out of Spain, Germany, China and Israel,  but US technology is leading the race.  The alternative to molten salt based storage is PV with battery storage. However, that technology is not very feasible for large scale storage. So far in the energy storage wars, molten salt and SolarReserve are leading the charge.

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Anjan Saikia
Keeping Solar Simple

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