Here's The Technology Behind The First Solar Plant That Works At Night

Molten Salt Experiment

Photo: Boston University

The first 24-hour commercial-scale solar power plant has just opened in Selville, Spain.Sustainable Business reports that the 19.9 megawatt plant operates the entire 24 hours by using molten salt to store energy from the sun during the daytime.

The molten salt can heat steam and drive the plant’s steam turbine for up to 15 hours without any sunlight.

This solves the old solar problem of no longer having electricity after dark.

Molten salt is one type of concentrated solar power (CSP) technology that has gained popularity recently because of its ability to solve the intermittency problem.

A month ago, the U.S. began building its own CSP power plant using molten salt out in Nevada.  The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is backed by a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy and would have a capacity of 110 megawatts.

The hope is that the 640 foot tall U.S. plant will power over 43,000 homes and create over 600 new jobs according to Sustainable Business.  The U.S. power plant is anticipated to be online by December 2013.

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