First 24/7 Solar Plant



One of the difficulties with using solar energy is its inability to produce electricity around the clock. Torresol Energy in southern Spain has solved this problem by storing thermal energy in two tanks of molten salt. This enables the plant to generate electricity long after sundown in order to satisfy the energy needs of the local populace. The molten salt -- known as MSES -- stores enough thermal energy during the day to create steam power during the night.
The MSES consists of 60% potassium nitrate and 40% sodium nitrate. This mixture has the amazing ability to retain 99% of the heat energy generated by the CSP plant to be reused later. Essentially what Forbes calls a “battery” that lasts for about 15 hours – more than double Andasol I’s 7 hour capacity – the MSES is not considered especially toxic to the environment.

Gemasolar is expected to produce approximately 110,000 MWh of energy each year – enough to power 25,000 homes. Although a 19.9 MW plant is relatively small, this functions on par with a 50MW plant that lacks decent storage since it can feed the grid all of the time. Designed to operate 6,500 hours annually, this latest development in super-duper CSP plants opened in May, 2011.

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Mercurial, it seems like you're downing this idea, I'm not sure. But, you've got to remember, the wind doesn't always blow and sun doesn't always shine. However, it's usually windy when it's cloudy and calm when it's sunny. If anything, solar and wind power are a perfect pair. Pumped storage and MSES are two simple solutions for both forms of these alternative energies to function in their downtime. Their simplicity amazes me. Pumped storage: we've been making dams and hydroelectricity for centuries. Concentrated solar: we've used boilers for all sorts of machines for centuries. There's no need to develop new technology. They just need to be planned and made.
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19.9 MW ... that's less than three Enercon E-126s - the largest wind turbines built, which can generate up to 7.5 MW apiece:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enercon_E-126

Sure, you'd still need a battery storage system to match the molten salt. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity is one option:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped-storage_hydroelectricity#Potential_technologies

Land area is also a potential issue. This plant is supposedly on 185 hectares (1.85 km^2). To generate the average yearly energy output equal to the Hoover Dam (4.2 TWh/year), the plant would need to be 38.2 times larger in area or 70.6 km^2 = 27.3 square miles. That may only be a tenth the surface area of Lake Mead, but you can fish in and go for a boat ride on a lake.
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Well, for starters, a "city block" is not a valid unit of measure. Is that in Manhattan, or Minneapolis, or St Louis, or Mexico City, etc. The size of a block barely makes sense for a particular location.
Second, something like this would be best positioned in an arid location. Desert, that is. You're not trading a mirror array for your favorite pizza place.
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