Challenges in Thermal Energy Storage for Solar Power Plants

L. Wibbenmeyer, T. Smith, J. Craig
Abener / Abengoa, US

Keywords: molten salt thermal storage


The need for renewable and sustainable energy is clear. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is one means of power generation that is becoming economically viable to meet those needs. CSP however, does have limitations due to it’s reliance on direct sunlight as a means of energy input. Thermal energy storage (TES) can overcome these limitations and can improve a plant’s economic viability by allowing power production during peak demand periods that occur during non-daylight hours. The Solana project designed by Abener North America, near Gila Bend, AZ utilizes molten nitrate salt thermal energy storage to capture these benefits. Thermal energy storage has long been considered by the solar industry; and the Abengoa companies have endeavored to design and build the world’s largest thermal energy storage system attached to a CSP plant. A variety of technical considerations must be made when designing a nitrate salt thermal energy storage system.