Oct 15, 2013

Arizona solar plant continues power six hours after sun goes down via thermal #energy.

PhysOrgAbengoa's Solana plant in the desert near Gila Bend, Arizona, passed commercial testing this week The 280-megawatt Solana solar thermal power plant producing electricity without direct sunlight made the announcement on Wednesday. Abengoa said Wednesday that the facility, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, can store the sun's power for six hours via thermal energy. The three -square-mile facility near Gila Bend uses concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect the sun's heat. Thermal energy storage is Solana's distinctive feature. At 280 megawatts, Solana is one of the largest plants using parabolic mirrors. Its 2,700 parabolic trough mirrors follow the sun to focus heat on a pipe containing a heat transfer fluid, which is a synthetic oil. The heat transfer fluid flows to steam boilers, where it heats water to create steam. The steam drives 140-megawatt turbines to produce electricity.

Solana is one of the largest power plants of its kind in the world. Beyond size, what makes Solana special as a solar power plant is the ability to store the heat from the sun for electrical production at night, using substantial thermal storage to keep the juice flowing for hours after sundown.