Phys.org™, a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics, reports that the 280-megawatt Solana solar thermal power plant in the Arizona desert passed commercial testing this week.
Abengoa Solar, a Spanish multinational, has designed and set up this facility which can store the sun’s power for six hours for electrical production at night.
Solana uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect the sun’s heat with 2,700 parabolic trough mirrors (enlarged shot below) which follow the sun and focus heat on a pipe containing a heat transfer fluid, a synthetic oil. This flows to steam boilers, where it heats water to create steam. The steam drives 140-megawatt turbines to produce electricity.
A report on the Arizona plant by IEEE Spectrum emphasises that this is a huge step for the solar industry as intermittency is still among the most common complaints about industrial-scale renewable energy.
Read more about the Solana plant here: