BA student devises algorithm to optimize Tower CSP preheating strategy

Much of the research covered at SolarPACES in concentrated solar power (CSP) is advanced by international post-docs and professors, but as the need for climate solutions advances, it is drawing the attention of younger researchers with STEM backgrounds in mathematics, physics and chemistry. During her BA in Germany, Isabell Reisch chose to create an algorithm […]

Will the US Demo Long-duration Energy Storage in Time?

In a new study from Sandia National Laboratories; The Value of Long-Duration Energy Storage: Policy and Perception, researchers have published details regarding policies pertaining to long-duration energy storage (LDES), including feedback from  around 500 stakeholders. Respondents included representatives from utilities, governments, industry, academia, non-profits, and national labs. While for now, batteries are sufficient, the need […]

How China’s Cosin Solar Solved Some Tower CSP Challenges

Known then as Supcon Solar, Cosin Solar developed two tower projects in China’s pilot CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) program; as technology and core equipment provider on PowerChina Gonghe 50MW tower CSP, and developing the Supcon Delingha 50MW tower CSP. These were two of the five tower CSP demonstration projects that succeeded in China’s pilot program. […]

Volateq Brings Drone Monitoring Subscriptions for Trough Solar Thermal Energy

Drone monitoring of solar fields is already established for photovoltaic solar. Now a new DLR spinoff – Volateq.de brings drone technology to the very different challenges of monitoring solar field performance, for concentrated solar power (CSP). “There’s a lot of lot of stuff that can go wrong in a CSP plant, components that can fail, […]

Hot Solar Biomass Gasifier Makes Clean Hydrogen-Rich Syngas

Biomass gasification using steam and oxygen is an already mature technology for extracting hydrogen, which requires heat at above 700°C. To generate the heat for gasification, traditionally, some of the biomass itself is burnt. But this combustion emits several greenhouse gases, which can be quite high, depending on the carbon and hydrogen content of the […]

Advance Hot Solar Fuels with “Spillover” Policies

A pair of policy researchers at Potsdam University’s Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Germany have a suggestion for policy to advance high temperature Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) technologies. Today’s commercially operating Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is run at temperatures used in thermal electricity production and mid temperature industrial processes; 400°C to 600°C. But policy […]

The Economics of Running CSP as a Capacity Resource in the 100% Renewable Future

A new paper to be published in the journal Energy Conversion and Management: X: Using Concentrating-Solar-Power Plants as Economic Carbon-Free Capacity Resources – develops an approach to assessing the capacity contribution from CSP plants with thermal energy storage in a future Southwestern US grid once there is a very high level of other renewables like […]

Why Likana’s 24-Hour Solar Bid under $34/MWh Lost in Chile

At the annual SolarPACES Conference (held virtually for the second year) Cerro Dominador’s CEO Fernando Gonzalez answered questions from the international network of concentrated solar power (CSP) researchers and developers attending about exactly what happened in the recent Chilean energy auctions with the record-low bid for CSP at under $34/MWh. How Cerro Dominador bid a […]

100 GWh of Long Duration Energy Storage from MIT

A very large-scale long duration energy storage (LDES) idea from MIT envisages a 1 kilometer-long, 60 meter-wide lidded central storage container of rocks sunk 20 meters down into the ground – about the size of 10 football fields if they were laid end to end. The idea is that it could store energy from up […]

For 100% Renewables, DOE Speeds-up Storage Policy

DOE workshops educate regulators on long duration energy storage (LDES) A Federal energy project funded through the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity has initiated workshops designed to help state utility regulators determine best practices in policies to enable carbon-free energy storage technologies and, in particular, long duration energy storage, as renewable energy […]

Could a Perovskite make Cheaper Solar Hydrogen?

A perovskite may be more cost-effective than ceria for solar-driven thermochemical hydrogen production, a new paper suggests. One perovskite formulation that works at a slightly lower temperature than ceria is explored by Xin Qian in the paper Outstanding Properties and Performance of CaTi0.5Mn0.5O3–d for Solar-Driven Thermochemical Hydrogen Production in research funded by the US Department of […]

Aalborg CSP to Retrofit Coal Plants into Thermal Energy Storage

Researchers at DLR, and NREL, and the Bill Gates-funded start-up Malta have been investigating converting coal plants into grid-scale thermal energy storage for curtailed intermittent renewable energy, as low-cost heat “batteries.” (Thermal energy storage was originally developed as storage for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), but it can alternatively be deployed “standalone” to store energy for […]

MIT Proposes PV to Discharge Energy from 2,400°C Silicon Thermal Storage

The MIT team estimates their thermal “battery” designed for long duration – 100 hours or more – would be half the cost of today’s cheapest grid-scale energy storage; pumped hydro. A very intriguing idea for long-duration gigawatt-scale grid thermal energy storage proposes to store renewable electricity from the grid by charging a “battery” of molten […]

First-of-its-Kind Experiment with Liquid Metals in Thermocline Energy Storage at Karlsruhe

One of the ways to cut costs in thermal energy storage, whether standalone or as part of tower Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is to use heat transfer fluids able to reach higher temperatures, and with a wider working range between hot and cold than today’s molten salts with their working range between “cold” at 290°C […]

Australian Researchers Assess the Commercial Viability of Solar Alumina Calcining

Commercializing alumina refining using solar heat Approximately 27% of Australia’s industrial carbon emissions come from alumina refineries, in which fossil fuels are burned to heat the processes. But concentrated solar thermal (CST) could provide up to half of the heat needed. Australian researchers have for the first time demonstrated a novel solar reactor for calcining […]

Industry Shares its Experience to Advance Next Generation CSP

Engineers generally tend to be solutions-oriented, and engineers in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) are no different. A history of making things better than they were is why we now have advanced technologies. As Hal Harvey, founder of Energy Innovation told the NYT opinion columnist Tom Friedman: “A prime difference between the Enlightenment and the Dark […]

Making Solar Hydrogen with a Side of Carbon Nanotubes

Two teams of solar researchers have developed a novel solar reactor and thermochemical process for making solar hydrogen that can generate in addition carbon black and graphite as well as carbon nanotubes. Working over a six-year period, the teams first developed the specific solar reactor, and then subsequently, the thermochemistry for the (patent pending) novel […]



Clean Tech Investment Challenge in Commercializing Innovations like HELIOtube

HELIOVIS has been running a demo plant in Spain for two years demonstrating their novel low-cost blow-up plastic tube solar collector for CSP. The small startup is fighting hard to get the industry-scale financial backing needed to introduce the technology and to make commercial sales. https://www.solarpaces.org/how-csp-works/ “We developed a solar collector that replaces the conventional […]

Irrigation Water Can First be Used to Cool a Solar Thermal Power Project

Wet cooling of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants would be preferable if there was plenty of available water, because it promotes greater thermal efficiency. However, most CSP tends to be built in very arid regions, and so for environmental reasons, developers increasingly get these solar thermal power projects permitted only by planning less-efficient dry cooling. […]

Brightsource Innovates a Solar-cured Coating for DEWA Tower CSP

Testing laboratories in Germany, France and Spain have confirmed the effectiveness of a new high-performance (97% absorbance) optical coating developed by Brightsource Energy, that can be “solar-cured” directly atop the receiver of tower CSP, like Brightsource is building as part of the ACWA Power 700 MW DEWA CSP project in the UAE for the Dubai […]

Rebirth of SolarReserve’s 450 MW Likana Brings CSP Supply Chain Hope for Chile

This week, the Cerro Dominador Group/EIG Global Energy Partners bought the Likana Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project from US-based SolarReserve, which was unable to complete the project. SolarReserve had already developed Likana by accomplishing the preliminary work of siting and monitoring local DNI and taking it through Chile’s environmental permitting process, but was unable to […]

Sodium-based Vast Solar Combines the Best of Trough & Tower CSP to Win our Innovation Award

At the 2019 SolarPACES Conference, Vast Solar took the SolarPACES Technical Innovation Award for their use of high temperature sodium-based HTF in tower CSP, presented in their paper: Vast Solar: improving performance and reducing cost and risk using high temperature modular arrays and sodium heat transfer fluid. Their design appears like a small modular tower […]

MENA Region Industries Could Heat for Less with Solar

Which Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nations could decarbonize industrial heat with Concentrated Solar Heat (CSH) most cost-effectively? World Bank energy consultant Elena Cuadros and Fraunhofer’s Pedro Horta supplied very detailed calculations showing where CSH could be substituted at a lower cost than fossil fuels by comparing CSH costs to specific fossil fuel costs currently […]

Add Hydrogen Combustion to a Solar Reactor for Carbon-Free Mining and Mineral Processing

Iron, nickel, alumina and copper mining processes are among the industrial processes that require heat at between 700°C and 1000°C. The advanced concentrated solar thermal (CST)reactors being developed by researchers globally can attain temperatures this high (and higher, up to 1500°C). But CEOs in mining and mineral processing industries are more familiar with fuel combustion […]

Could China’s Global Grid Idea Help Grow CSP?

China has an ambitious proposal for a global HVDC grid to transfer renewable energy throughout the world. Interconnected regional electricity networks would be connected to a backbone of HVDC lines that would become a globe-spanning super grid by 2050. Advancing the idea is China’s Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDO). The concept depends on […]

Designing Solar Furnaces to Make Biochars without Air Pollution

Charcoal might seem like a very low tech product, but lithium batteries, water filtration and super-capacitors are among its high tech end uses, and the requirements for these different purposes are actually very exacting. Solar researchers in Mexico are investigating the various temperatures and the rate of heat needed to make different biochars from agricultural […]

VC-Funded Thermal “Battery” is Based on CSP Molten Salt Energy Storage

Standalone thermal storage: “Incredibly cheap grid-scale storage with a very long calendar life” The new Venture Capital (VC) firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) only invests in technologies they vet as both “scientifically feasible at scale” and with the potential to reduce “at least half a gigaton of greenhouse gases every year.” Along with Alfa Laval […]

Make Carnot Batteries with Molten Salt Thermal Energy Storage in ex-Coal Plants

Retiring coal power plants could see a new life serving the green economy by storing renewable energy as thermal batteries, delivering the stored energy back to the grid using the former coal plant’s existing power blocks and grid connections. Leveraging the low cost of the molten salt thermal energy storage used in CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) […]

Study of Chile’s CSP Potential for Domestic Manufacturing

A study commissioned by the Chilean government and presented before the SolarPACES Conference in Morocco makes data available to potential participants in a Chilean CSP industry. The study, Local Content in CSP:CST Projects- Assessment of the Chilean Industry is designed to put together useful information for both international CSP developers bidding in auctions and local […]

Shouhang and EDF to Test s-CO2 Cycle in Concentrated Solar Power

China could be the first to deploy s-CO2 in CSP The world’s initial Concentrated SolarPower (CSP) plants continue to use the legacy steam cycles of conventional thermal plants. But steam cycle is a mature technology with temperature-based efficiency limits, hampering the potential to raise efficiency and lower costs. Consequently, international researchers have investigated a new […]

Trucks Transport Hot Particles Storing Energy 1 Kilometer for Multi-Tower CSP?

The tower form of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is very young technology. Less than a gigawatt is deployed globally, making it a nascent technology at the “Cambrian explosion” stage; multiple innovations are still being explored to cut costs. (How tower CSP works) A new economic study looks at reducing its Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) […]

Study Investigates Solar District Cooling Potential for Saudi Arabia

Instead of running air conditioners on fossil-fueled electricity, University of Bergamo researchers Guiseppe Franchini and Antonio Perdichizzi propose an alternative cooling technology; using a thermal form of solar energy to provide solar district cooling in the Saudi Kingdom. Their study of the economics of solar district cooling was published at Energy Conversion and Management, in […]

How CSP Can Help Remove CO2 from air

A New Paper Describes a Solar Thermal Air Capture of Carbon Dioxide with Amino Acids Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) will play a key role in a decarbonized economy because it can produce heat without adding any carbon emissions. Though for centuries we’ve produced heat for industrial uses by burning a fossil fuel like coal, or […]

Can Spain Revive the CSP Industry it Killed?

The time is right to consider what went wrong and what went right with Spain’s previous CSP policy – because an election in June put the renewable-friendly coalition that developed it back in power. Spain’s socialist-led coalition government jumpstarted virtually all the Concentrated Solar Power/CSP deployed in Europe, 2.3 GW, creating a supply chain of Spanish […]

Artificial Vision Enables Solar Field Calibration Overnight

Researchers have developed a prototype for calibrating an entire solar field in a single night, shaving months off the current calibration system for large size Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) tower plants. In tower CSP, an encircling solar field of thousands of heliostats (specialized mirrors) must continuously and precisely reflect concentrated beams from always-moving sunlight onto […]

A Blueprint for 100% Solar Desalination

Freshwater shortages are projected to increase in our hotter and more crowded future. Already,150 countries desalinate seawater, using fossil fuels. But supplying an ever-increasing basic need with non-renewable fuels creates a growing threat, according to Dr. Diego-César Alarcón-Padilla, who heads the Solar Desalination Unit at Plataforma Solar de Almería (PSA) and is Operating Agent of Task […]

Eastern Morocco’s Concentrated Solar Power Potential Assessed

A new paper published at Solar Energy investigates Eastern Morocco’s suitability to host Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in a multilayered assessment. Dr. Ahmed Alami Merrouni, who heads up research on Meteorology and Solar Materials Degradation at Institut de Recherche en Energie Solaire et Energies Nouvelles (IRESEN), and his team determined which parts of Eastern Morocco […]

Path to a Booming Australian Solar Thermal Energy Market

Industry response suggests an Australian concentrated solar thermal market would be well subscribed A report out from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) this month published responses from industry stakeholders on the viability of a concentrated solar thermal (CST) energy market in Australia: Paving the way for concentrated solar thermal in Australia. Only 5 gigawatts […]

Solar Heat to Make Power + Water for Namibia: Study

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is suited to regions with good solar resource. CSP+desalination can simultaneously solve related water scarcity. Seawater desalination can be integrated into a solar thermal energy plant using a variety of desalination technologies. Is solar-driven multi-effect distillation a financially feasible solution for water-stressed Namibia? A research study from Stellenbosch University finds that a […]

Particle Receivers to Get First Commercial Trial – in Saudi Arabia

A new solar technology is twice as efficient, cutting the cost of solar thermal energy, by raising operating temperatures to 1,000°C, almost twice the 565°C molten salt temperature in current concentrated solar power (CSP) tower plants. For most innovative research in clean energy, the dreaded “Valley of Death” after lab scale success is the sad […]

How solar thermochemistry generates the greenest hydrogen

What part will solar thermochemistry play in building a future hydrogen economy? For an overview, we interviewed a top solar hydrogen expert, Christian Sattler, who holds 18 patents and has authored 158 peer-reviewed papers on the technology. Sattler heads the Department of Solar Chemical Engineering at the Institute of Solar Research at Deutsches Zentrum für […]

How Synhelion’s solar jet fuel started – an interview in 2017

Thermochemical solar fuel manufacturing would be an energy industry with a life of centuries, rather than decades. The feedstock of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water is essentially unlimited. Scientists with the SOLAR-JET Project have demonstrated the first-ever entire process to make kerosene, the jet fuel used by commercial airlines, using a high-temperature thermal solar reactor […]

US DOE: CSP Could Provide Needed Flexibility and Reliability to Grid

BY AVI SHULTZ Dr. Avi Shultz is the acting program manager for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) team, which supports research, development, and demonstration of solar thermal components and systems that can enable wide-spread deployment of low-cost CSP with thermal energy storage. Every day our power needs […]

Scientist Devises a Solar Reactor to Make Water and Oxygen from Moon Rocks

An aerospace engineer has built a machine to make water and oxygen from the lunar regolith, powered by solar energy. Thorsten Denk’s paper Design and Test of a Concentrated Solar Powered Fluidized Bed Reactor for Ilmenite Reduction was presented at the 23rd Annual SolarPACES Conference in Chile. (Thorsten Denk – Presentation (pdf) Working over a ten year […]

How Solar Peaker Plants Could Replace Gas Peakers

Solar can be designed to run only after dark at a competitive price with a current natural gas peaker plant. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) can be a night-only dispatchable (D-CSP) plant; with its entire solar energy absorbed by day to be delivered after dark to cover the evening peak load on the grid, according to a study funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Read More …

Solar Flux; from Bug to Feature

Sandia scientists find the optimal way to mop up surplus solar flux on CSP towers Excess solar flux could be harnessed and used to generate additional electricity at a tower CSP plant, by cladding part of the tower containing the receiver with photovoltaic (PV) panels, according to Sandia scientist Cliff Ho. He found that adding […]

Sandia Labs R&D Helped SolarReserve hit 6 Cents CSP

Research was key to the low price record of 6 cents for dispatchable solar thermal energy at Port Augusta: SolarReserve According to Kevin Smith, the CEO of California-based SolarReserve; the company that is first to sell CSP at 6 cents/kWh, the record-low CSP price was largely due to their receiver and heliostat research. The 150 MW […]

US DOE Funds Terrafore’s Phase Change Energy Storage Test

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has released funding to the Argonne National Laboratory for a scaled-up round of independent testing of Terrafore Technologies’ innovative encapsulated thermal energy storage in phase change salts, designed to operate in temperatures to greater than 800°C in a single tank that acts as both storage and heat exchanger.

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How Port Augusta Got the World’s Cheapest Solar Thermal Power

Most coverage of SolarReserve’s 150 MW Aurora solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta completely overlooked its biggest news: the South Australian Government just bought the world’s cheapest solar thermal energy. Just 6 cents per kilowatt hour. SolarReserve will sell solar thermal energy to the South Australian Government at $75 (AUD) with a guaranteed cap […]

CSP to be Essential by 2050 …for Germany?

Given Germany’s lack of desert sun, it might seem improbable that thermal solar would be a key component of its low-carbon grid planning under its Energiewende (energy transition). But several papers published in 2016 found that concentrated solar power (CSP) will be essential. Read More …

Why Chile Could Lead the World in CSP

With annual solar radiation at 3,500kWh per square meter, akin to what you see in outer space, it is no surprise that Chile is a world leader in solar energy production. The nation is also in a position to lead the world in CSP Read More …

Solar EOR a Big Win for GlassPoint

Unlike other CSP developers who leverage the heat of the sun as the “fuel” for a power block that then generates electricity to the grid; GlassPoint’s enclosed troughs are simply employed in the direct production of steam, focusing on what the company sees as an ignored market for heat. Read More …

SolarPACES to Optimize Chile’s Clean Energy Grid

Chile will be next to benefit from an analysis; developed in Germany, of optimal clean energy grid options A new computational tool will be used by international researchers at SolarPACES to calculate the best technology mix of generation resources to most cost-effectively cover Chile’s load curve. The modeling tool was initially developed at Aachen University, […]