Areva has begun operations at its molten salt energy storage demonstration plant in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The plant has been installed at Sandia National Laboratories' National Solar Thermal Test Facility, while it is designed for use with the company's Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology.
An innovative approach to energy storage that combines the molten salt test loop (MSTL) with Areva's CLFR applications was developed jointly by Areva's solar team and Sandia's molten salt technology experts.
Areva said that the use of molten salt as a working fluid enables high temperature operations, reduces the volume of salt needed for storage, and removes the need for two sets of heat-exchangers in the system.
These efficiencies will reduce the overall cost and complexity of the system.
As a part of the project, Areva will also review the optimisation of operation and maintenance costs related to molten salt management in a real world environment.
Areva said that CLFR design uses an array of mirrors to concentrate the sun's energy on an elevated evacuated tube receiver to heat a working fluid, in this case molten salt.
Areva Solar CEO Sam Shakir said this innovative storage solution combines the company's proven and economical CLFR technology with the demonstrated use of molten salt as a heat transfer and storage fluid.
"Together,these technologies provide a solution to capture the sun's energy sun during the day and economically deliver renewable power to the grid at any time," Shakir said.
Sandia National Laboratories manager for concentrating solar Dr. Subhash L. Shinde said: "This is an enabling technology that provides a possible path to realising the Department of Energy-driven Sunshot programme's goal to reduce the total installed cost of solar energy systems to $.06 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2020."
Image: Areva commissions molten salt energy storage demonstration. Photo: © Areva.