solar thermal electric

Abener to develop molten salt storage for the Solar Platform in Almeria

Spain's CIEMAT (Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research) has appointed Abener, a subsidiary of the technology group Abengoa, to conduct a project to develop molten salt storage in the experimental solar plant of the Solar Platform in Almeria (Spain).

The project, which has an estimated investment of €3 million, will increase the capacity of the plant to store heat energy generated by the concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, as well as allowing the exchange of energy between gas and nitrate salts.

Thermal storage is one of the main challenges faced by CSP plants as it enables plants to continue generating electricity when solar radiation is not normally strong enough, i.e. during cloudy periods or at night. Molten salt storage is one of the most innovative ways that heat can be stored, but is still at a developmental stage.

This technology is based on the use of two salt tanks to store the heat. During the loading cycle, the heat from the salt is exchanged with the fluid coming from the solar field, and in doing so it is stored in the warm tank. During the discharging cycle, the system operates in the opposite direction, heating the carrier fluid which will generate steam so the turbine comes into operation, hence producing electricity.

According to Abener, “this advanced project reinforces the commitment [it] has with the environment; providing global, innovative and sustainable solutions, which have been applied to the design, construction and operation for energetic and industrial plants”.

The Solar Platform in Almeria is located in the town of Tabernas, which is 40 kilometres from Almeria in Spain. It is the largest European centre for research, development and testing of concentrating solar technologies.

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