Santa Monica-based Solar Reserve has been granted approval to build the first solar-powered plant in California that will utilize molten salt technology to store excess thermal energy, generating electricity whenever it’s needed – day or night.
Until now, solar energy could only be generated during daylight hours and there was no effective way to store any excess or overflow. By utilizing on the proven technology of the Solar Two Project (based in the Mojave Desert), Solar Reserve’s new plant will be able to collect and store sufficient thermal energy every morning to operate at full capatity all day and for up to eight hours after sunset.
Approved in record time – a mere 13 months - the new installation will be located in eastern Riverside County (California) and will supply approximately 450,000 MWh of zero-emission electricity annually. That’s enough to power up to 68,000 homes during peak electricity periods.
The molten salt will be able to reach temperatures over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The solar tower will use hundreds of mirrored heliostats within a two square mile field to collect the thermal energy the tower generates.
From rumor to reality, this is definitely an exciting venture to keep an eye on. Like so many other innovations sourced in the West, this could further the clean energy revolution.