July 25, 2011

Solar can deliver baseload power

I believe someone posted a comment earlier this week, arguing that solar would never be able to replace fossil fuels as it could not deliver baseload power to the grid. Well, the future has arrived. Spain’s Gemasolar array does just that! The 19.9MW solar concentrating power plant located in Spain’s Adalucia province uses two tankes of molten salt (MSES) to store the energy generated throughout the day.

This stored energy allows the plant to fulfil the peak energy requirements of summer long after the sun goes down. The molten salt “battery” consists of 60% potassium nitrate and 40% sodium nitrate and has the ability to retain 99% of the heat energy generated by the concentrating solar power plant for later reuse, and lasts for up to 15 hours. The plant is expected to produce ~110,000 MWh of energy each year, enough to power 25,000 homes. This is the first true 24/7 solar power plant in the world, and a good case study for what is possible.

Check out the video below for more.

  • Anonymous

    Australia has one big big coast line most of our population lives  in the coastal
    Tidal power generation will not produce poisons it will only produce clean cheap
    power and lots of clean money

  • Rob

    I think we all new that solar could deliver base load power, the issue has been the cost of this delivery which encompases the effective life of the infrastructure, and the fat that solar panels need a storage facility otherwise they will only work in the daytime. In addition to this solar panels have a number of nasty chemicals in them which creates another environmental hazard when they are past their usefull life of up to 20 years. With the population growth in Australia each house approval will require an increase in a solar farm …which creates an interesting planning dilemma. This article seems to indicate that some of these issues have been resolved…very positive news.

  • chris

    all very interesting, but what is the embedded energy in this solar farm. how much carbon was introduced into the environment to build this thing and how many years of generation will this plant need to reliably produce to offset this carbon impost. oh! and don’t forget there is on going carbon impost in the maintenance of the plant. bet no one looked at this before they built this feel good devise
    chris of mrcleanair@bigpond.com

  • Energy Realist

    Sorry, but that’s not base load power. A traditional power station still needs to be built, of the same capacity, and at least be partially online to supply power when there’s cloud coverage. It will help reduce the fuel burn, especially at night, but it will dramatically increase up front capital costs (traditional power station + solar farm, effectively building 2x required capacity at way more than 2x the cost)

    If it can’t reliably cover the base load, it’s not a base load replacement.

    And that much land just to do 25,000 homes? Not very practical.

    It is pretty cool though.

  • KenThe PoetFromOz

    In all the specifications for the Gemasolar plant, there is a service factor of 75%.
    What this means is the plant will effectively not generate any power for 3 months per year. A stated cost of $18/ watt would give the plant a price tag around $36 billion, to supply 25,000 homes, a city half the size of Wollongong. No wonder Spain is in deep trouble.
    Solar power won’t go within a “Bulls Roar of Base Load”. Geothermal may be a possibility, for Australia though. But, given your “uneasiness” with drilling holes and fracking, Christine would never allow it.
    So, keep dreaming. Keep accepting all that’s said to you, without questioning it. Keep believeing the unaudited “Holy Grail”, the I.P.C.C.’s new religion “Climate Change”, and it won’t be long before we are just like Spain. With 25% unemployment & a “Nightmare Future for their Grandchildren”.
    Give up these pipedreams, they are not feasible. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Anderton/504726871 David Anderton

    Another one of these plants is now being built to power Vegas

  • Scotto

    I see that Korea has gone in for a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions now.

  • Guest

    The issue with all of this. Is the fact that there is alot of money invested by the goverment in coal power. Several plants are going through costly upgades as we speak and it would cost the goverment too much money to convert to 100% renewerable energy. Their so called “green” forward front is nothing but a cover. No different then those who buy brand new Prius’s saying they are better for the enviroment when producing a new car creates more emmisions then buying second hand ever could.

  • Harry

    The Gemasolar plant’s website states quite clearly “provides continuous power many months of the year”. Many months of the year isn’t base load.
    Additionally it can only continue operation for 15 hours without the Sun, so overnight and a small part of the morning. If it is cloudy or raining in the morning it stops.

    Articles like this one is what brings disrepute to alternative power promoters.

  • The Colonel

    Shot down in flames. Scrap it, obviously Chris is right. We should continue digging coal out of the ground using machines that require no maintenance, transporting it to the furnaces with those trucks that don’t burn fossil fuels on self-maintaining roads. We must continue converting that coal into electricity by burning it, and pumping lots of pollution out in the process.  We should continue building cars which we can’t sell (go Ford, oops gone), instead of creating solar reflectors.  We must keep our construction industry afloat with urban sprawl instead of building the towers needed for the solar storage devices. Well said, and well stated Chris.

  • Anonymous

    Solar can deliver the majority if not all the electricity that the average householder uses,

    BUT even if you do, you still have to pay the Carbon Tax exactly the same as if you didn’t have Solar Panels. That’s you pay $500.00 per annum to make the planet greener even though you have already spent up to $10,000 to make it greener.

    After we have to allow the Electricity Retailers to rip you off so that they can make that extra $500.00 per household that’s 800,000 households, so that’s $400 million free of cost profit (plus mark up no doubt) for the Electricity Retailers without spending a penny.

    What’s that you suspect someone must be getting something under the table for that little gem. No way, this is honest and fair Australia.