In this post John outlines two developments in the thermosolar concentrated solar power (CSP) arena that are enabling CSP to fulfill the role of baseload suppliers. Molten salt energy storage is naturally suited for CSP facilities and is quite efficient as an energy store — both in terms of low loss and in terms of capital expenditures (compared with batteries for example). By storing power in this way CSP plants can continue delivering power even after the sun has gone down. In addition by pairing CSP with stand-by combined-cycle natural gas generators greater overall reliability can be achieved.
While the collapse of climate legislation in Congress was a setback for some green businesses, many others are moving ahead with projects to develop renewable energy. One major reason: The clean-tech sector is rapidly growing worldwide, and U.S. companies don’t want to be left behind.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States and based in San Fransisco, CA announced that it has contracted with Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., the U.S. arm of the world’s largest provider of wind power, to purchase and operate a major wind generating plant to be built in Southern California to serve the utility’s electric customers.
The sun can help coal fired power plants burn less coal by pre-heating the water used to make high pressure high temperature steam during periods when the sun is shining. In other words the sun would do part of the work of producing high pressure/ high temperature steam and in this manner the overall hybrid solar/coal power plant would use less coal than a coal only power plant would need to produce the same amount of electric power.