This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 28, 2014

Energy Department Announces Report and Projects to Advance Concentrating Solar Power

A reflecting tower in the desert.

Ivanpah, the world's largest concentrating solar plant, opened in California on February 13, 2014.
Credit: BrightSource Energy

The Energy Department on May 21 released its report, “2014: The Year of Concentrating Solar Power,” which focuses on five concentrating solar power (CSP) plants that are expected to be fully operational in the Southwest in 2014. The CSP plants, among the most innovative in the world, are a result of sustained, long-term investments by the Obama Administration and committed solar industry partners. When completed, these projects will provide a combined 1.26 gigawatts (GW) of electricity—nearly quadrupling CSP capacity in the United States, and have the potential to power more than 350,000 homes. The five CSP projects illustrate how Energy Department loan guarantees encouraged private market investment and accelerated the deployment of these technologies at commercial scale. See the full report PDF.

The Energy Department also announced $10 million for six new research and development projects that will advance innovative CSP technologies. The projects will develop thermochemical energy storage systems to enable more efficient storage of solar energy while using less storage material, cutting the cost for utility-scale CSP electricity generation as a result.

CSP technologies use mirrors to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver from which a heat transfer fluid carries the energy to a power block to generate electricity. The research and development projects will explore and develop novel thermochemical energy storage systems, which could store the sun's energy at high densities and temperatures in the form of chemical bonds. The chemical compounds used to store the chemical energy are later broken down to release energy when needed. Six teams from universities, national laboratories, and research institutes, working with industrial partners, will test different chemical processes for CSP thermochemical energy storage that could further advance CSP technology, helping the industry step closer to meeting the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative’s technical and cost targets for CSP. See the Energy Department news release.

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