Halotechnics develops technology for cheap solar thermal power production

Solar energy, while having the capacity to be hugely beneficial, isn’t without its drawbacks. Harnessing and releasing it is expensive and intermittent. Its output also depends on cloud cover and the time of the day. But, a company called Halotechnics, which develops advanced materials for thermal energy storage, could possibly be solar energy’s saving grace.

Cheap Solar Power at Night

Halotechnics has created new heat storage materials which have the ability not only to make efficient solar thermal power plants, but while doing so, reduce the cost as well. The materials used comprise new glass materials and salt mixtures which could be the answer to making solar thermal plants reliable and cheap enough to give fossil fuel a run for its money.

Solar thermal plants generate power using mirrors to concentrate enough sunlight to produce high temperatures. This generates steam for a turbine to drive the generator unlike solar panels which convert sunlight directly into electricity. Building plants such as these cost more than conventional solar panels but the advantage is that it is cheaper and easier to store heat generated by the mirrors. Some of the solar thermal power plants come equipped with heat storage equipments which allow them to generate steam even after the sun goes down.

The new combination of glass and salt materials which was discovered by Halotechnics could reduce the cost of solar thermal power in various ways. They will allow the plants to work at high temperatures and in the process, improve their efficiency and reduce the size of the mirror arrays. The new materials can also store up to thrice the amount of energy than current ones used now, thus, reducing the cost of the storage system. Since the turbines and generators produce power day and night, this could reduce the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity which is produced by a solar thermal plant.

Via: Technologyreview

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