Photo credit: Southern California Edison

Solar Two, a prototype 10-MW electric power plant, recently completed operation demonstrating the performance of a unique molten-salt thermal storage system that allows electricity to be produced independent of solar energy collection. In the system, a molten nitrate salt is heated to 565°C with concentrated sunlight in a receiver at the top of the tower. The hot salt, which is stored in a tank, is pumped through a steam generator to transfer heat to make high pressure steam for a Rankine cycle turbine-generator. The heliostat field uses over 1900 two-axis tracking mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the receiver. The operation of Solar Two helped mitigate the risks associated with molten-salt power towers so that now, U.S. and Spanish industries are designing a plant for deployment in Spain.

Photo credit: Southern California Edison

The Solar Two receiver (Right) comprises twenty-four panels...

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