The American company SolarReserve received permission to build a concentrated solar power plant Tamarugal, with a capacity of 450 MW, which is able to generate electricity and store it in the form of heat for 13 hours.
The special feature of the planned Tamarugal facility in Chile is the 24-hour (as well as year-round) generation of solar energy. Three power units of 150 MW are three towers equipped with energy storage devices, each of which stores energy for 13 hours.
The principle of the solar thermal energy (the concentrated solar power) plant operation with the energy storage system is the following: The mirrors with a certain level of inclination, equipped with rotary mechanisms, are being installed on a flat surface (to direct the sun's rays in one direction constantly, despite the apparent daily sun movement). Sunlight reflected by mirrors is being directed to one point (is being concentrated), thereby heating up to extremely high temperatures the device located on the tower. This device, in turn, heats the coolant carrier in it—the melted salt.
The melted salt heated above 500 °C is being used to generate electricity. The heat loss is only about 1% per day. Usually the stored energy is used the same night or the next day, but there is also an option to increase the storage capacity, which will increase the preservation time.
The concentrated solar power plants are considered to be an expensive technology. The cost of 1 kWh significantly exceeds $0.1. Such price can be justified only when the non-carbonaceous energy is being required.
But the company SolarReserve destroys such concepts. It has offered a price of $ 0.063 per 1 kWh at the last auction of renewable energy in Chile, a record low. But the company didn’t get the contract then, because it lost to solar photovoltaic power, which set a price record.
The new auction, where the project Tamarugal will be exhibited, will be held later this year.