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DOE Funds 15 New Projects to Develop Solar Power Storage and Heat Transfer Projects For Up to $67.6 Million

September 19, 2008 - 3:43pm


WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced selections for negotiations of award under the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), Advanced Heat Transfer Fluids and Novel Thermal Storage Concepts for Concentrating Solar Power Generation. These 15 new projects, for up to approximately $67.6 million, will facilitate the development of lower-cost energy storage for concentrating solar power (CSP) technology.  These projects support President Bush's Solar America Initiative, which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015. Increasing the use of alternative and clean energy technologies such as solar energy is critical to diversifying the Nation's energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil. As the lead agency for President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, DOE is committed to the diversification of our energy resources by spurring widespread commercialization and deployment of clean solar energy technologies. The development of innovative technologies will help to provide long-term economic, environmental, and security benefits to the United States.

"Harnessing the natural and abundant power of the sun and more cost-effectively converting it into energy has enormous potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide greater stability in electricity costs," DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said.  "These projects will not only spur innovation in concentrating solar power technology, but they will help meet the President's goal of making clean and renewable solar power commercially viable by 2015."

CSP systems utilize the heat generated by concentrating and absorbing the sun's energy to produce electric power.  A CSP plant with storage can operate continuously during periods of intermittent sun and produce electricity for extended periods without the sun. With thermal storage, the CSP plant is also able to match its electricity production with demand. This enables solar power to be provided to homes and businesses whenever it is most needed, day or night. In addition, thermal storage can lower the levelized cost of electricity from a CSP plant.

Selected projects are expected to promote DOE's goal of reducing the cost of CSP electricity from 13-16 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) today with no storage to 8-11 cents/kWh with six hours of storage by 2015, and to less than seven cents/kWh with 12-17 hours of storage by 2020.

Proposals were selected from the following categories:

  • Advanced heat transfer fluids research and development (R&D);
  • Thermal energy storage R&D; and,
  • Thermal energy storage near-term demonstration.
  • DOE has selected seven companies and six universities for funding under this award. In total, DOE will provide up to $35 million over four years, subject to annual appropriations; with cost-share, the total public-private investment will be up to approximately $67.6 million for the selected projects:

Advanced Heat Transfer Fluids Research and Development

  • Symyx - Deep Eutectic Salt Formulations Suitable as Advanced Heat Transfer Fluids (Sunnyvale, Calif.) Symyx will use a high throughput combinatorial approach to identify advanced heat transfer fluids. The objective is to find eutectic salts that can operate within a temperature range of 80°C to 500°C with a significantly increased heat capacity.  (Up to $2.3 million)

Thermal Energy Storage Research and Development

  • Abengoa  - Advanced Thermal Energy Storage for Central Receivers and Supercritical Coolants (Lakewood, Colo.)  Abengoa will determine if supercritical heat transport fluids in a power tower plant, in combination with ceramic themocline storage, offers a reduction in levelized energy cost relative to a baseline nitrate salt concept.  (Up to $1.9 million)
  • Acciona - Sensible Heat, Direct, Dual-Media Thermal Energy Storage Module (Henderson, Nev.) Acciona will design and validate, at the prototype level, a sensible heat storage module in which the heat transfer fluid flows through a solid storage media. (Up to $690,000)
  • City University of New York (CUNY) - A Novel Storage Method for Concentrating Solar Power Plants Allowing Operation at High Temperatures (New York, N.Y.) CUNY will develop a new storage method that utilizes carbon dioxide as the heat transfer fluid and solid ceramics for storage. This concept enables higher operating temperatures which will, in turn, lower the cost of the system. (Up to $1.9 million)
  • General Atomics - Thermochemical Heat Storage for Concentrating Solar Power (San Diego, Calif.) General Atomics will explore the use of thermochemical cycles to store solar heat. Selected systems will undergo experimental feasibility studies.  (Up to $2.4 million)
  • Infinia Corporation - Innovative Application of Maintenance Free Phase Change Thermal Energy Storage for Dish Engine Solar Power Generation (Kennewick, Wash.) Infinia will demonstrate the practicality of integrating a thermal energy storage module with a dish stirling engine, enabling the system to operate during cloud transients and to provide dispatchable power for four to six hours after sunset. Infinia will demonstrate the concept on 40-50 dish-engine systems at DOE's Sandia National Laboratories.   (Up to $9.4 million)
  • Lehigh University (LU) - Novel Thermal Energy Storage Technologies for Concentrating Solar Power Generation (Bethlehem, Pa.) LU will explore the containment of phase change materials in order to operate at temperatures near 400°C.  (Up to $1.5 million)
  • Terrafore - Heat Transfer and Latent Heat Storage in Inorganic Molten Salts for Concentrating Solar Power Plants (Riverside, Calif.)  Terrafore will explore the potential of dilute eutectic mixtures of inorganic salts to be effective phase change materials in a thermal storage system. They will examine the flow and heat transfer properties of selected salt mixtures, as well as, design a compatible heat exchanger. (Up to $1.8 million)
  • Texas Engineering Experiment Station - Molten Salt Carbon Nanotube Thermal Energy Storage for Concentrating Solar Power Systems (College Station, Texas) Texas A&M will create a suspension of carbon nanotubes in a molten salt material in order to improve thermal stability, heat capacity and thermal conductivity in the thermal region of 500°C to 600°C. (Up to $1.9 million)
  • University of Alabama (UA) - Novel Molten Salts Thermal Energy Storage for Concentrating Solar Power Generation (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) UA will develop low melting point molten salt storage media with high thermal energy density for sensible heat storage. (Up to $1.9 million)
  • University of Arkansas (UA) - Development and Performance Evaluation of High Temperature Concrete for Thermal Energy Storage and Solar Power Generation (Fayetteville, Ark.) UA will examine the characteristics of ultra high performance concrete, particularly its performance in temperatures up to 600°C.  (Up to $770,000)
  • University of Connecticut (UConn) - Novel Thermal Energy Storage for Concentrating Solar Power (Storrs, CT) UConn will embed thermosyphons, a method of passive heat exchange based on natural convection, and/or heat pipes with phase change materials to determine if they can significantly reduce thermal resistance within those materials. (Up to $1.8 million)

Thermal Energy Storage Near-Term Demonstration

  • Abengoa - Reducing the Cost of Thermal Energy Storage for Parabolic Trough Solar Power Plants. Abengoa (Lakewood, Colo.) will analyze cost reduction opportunities for several new concepts using an indirect two-tank molten salt design as the baseline of comparison. The goal will be to identify a concept that can achieve a 20-25 percent cost reduction from the baseline. (Up to $12.5 million)
  • Acciona - Indirect, Dual-Media, Phase Change Material Thermal Energy Storage Modul. Acciona (Henderson, Nev.) will design and validate at the prototype level, and then demonstrate an 800 MW four-hour thermal energy storage system using phase change material. The project will be integrated into Acciona's 64 MW trough plant in Boulder City, Nev. (Up to $22.5 million)
  • US Solar Holdings - CSP Energy Storage Solutions - Multiple Technologies Compared (Boise, Idaho) US Solar Holdings will explore two or more utility-scale energy storage technologies. These will include a thermocline single tank storage system and sand shifter -a two silo thermal mass storage system. The projects will be built and integrated with the Arizona Public Service CSP plant - a one MW parabolic trough plant in Red Rock, Ariz.  (Up to $4.35 million)

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Jennifer Scoggins, (202) 586-4940