BrightSource Energy Inc., a solar thermal technology company, has launched a new solar thermal power plant solution for utilities called SolarPLUS. The company says this product combines its LPT solar thermal technology with two-tank molten salt storage.
The combined technology extends the production of electricity into later parts of the day and after the sun sets, when it is most valued by utilities, and reduces the cost of renewable power for utilities' customers by increasing a plant's capacity factor and offering higher efficiencies than competing solar thermal power plants, according to BrightSource.
SolarPLUS also provides utilities with greater operational flexibility to shape production to meet changing utility customer demand and provides balancing and shaping capabilities, as well as ancillary services to support a reliable grid, the company adds.
SolarPLUS uses ‘solar salts’ composed of 60% sodium nitrate and 40% potassium nitrate. Steam from the LPT system is directed to a heat exchanger, where molten salts are further heated to a higher temperature, thus storing the heat energy for future use. Later, when the energy in storage is needed, the heat stored in the molten salts is used to generate steam to run the steam turbine.
‘Electricity markets with high penetration levels of intermittent resources are starting to place significant value on those resources that can provide clean energy as well as operational flexibility and reliability services to the grid,’ says Dr. Udi Helman, director of economic and pricing analysis for BrightSource Energy.