Volume 86 Issue 39 | p. 28 | Concentrates
Issue Date: September 29, 2008

DOE Funds Solar Electrical Storage

Department: Government & Policy
Credit: Hugh Reilly/Sandia National Laboratories

Fifteen technologies to store solar-generated electricity will be the focus of $35 million in new federal grants, the Department of Energy announced. The storage technologies will support concentrating solar power (CSP) units and are part of DOE's Solar American Initiative. CSP units use the sun's energy to heat a fluid or semifluid medium to drive a turbine or engine and generate electricity. The heated medium gives CSP the capacity to stretch out the usual six-hour limit for solar electricity output, offering the potential for utility-scale applications. The funded projects, DOE says, could reduce the cost of CSP-generated electricity from today's 13 to 16 cents per kWh to 7 cents per kWh by 2020 with 12 to 17 hours of storage. The cost of U.S. electricity averages 10 cents per kWh today. The largest grant ($22 million) goes to Acciona Energy to design and demonstrate an 800-MW, four-hour thermal energy storage system at its 64-MW CSP plant operating in Nevada. The four-year grants require matching funds and will go to six universities and seven companies.

 
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