The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office has awarded $72 million to projects advancing high-temperature concentrating solar power systems, including the falling-particle receiver system developed collaboratively at Sandia. Sandia’s continuously recirculating high-temperature falling-particle receiver is one of three concentrating solar power projects funded to advance high-temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) systems through the Generation 3 CSP (Gen3 CSP) program. As an awardee, Sandia and the project team will compete to build an integrated system that can efficiently receive solar heat and deliver it to a working fluid at greater than 700 °C temperature, while incorporating thermal energy storage.
The project research advances the novel particle-based technologies developed by Sandia and its partners to address key remaining risks. Over three phases, the team will work to reduce those risks; develop integrated design and analyses for pilot- and commercial-scale systems; and (if selected by DOE among the three projects) construct, test, and operate a Gen 3 Particle Pilot Plant (G3P3) system.
If successful, the work will decrease some of the risks associated with particle receivers and enable a successful demonstration of a high-temperature particle pilot plant that meets SunShot goals with thousands of hours of on-sun testing.
In the United States alone, between 11 and 21 gigawatts of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the United States to reduce their carbon emissions – that’s enough electricity to power to between 3 million and 6 million homes.
Current commercially available technologies only reach 565 °C. The high temperatures (at least 700 °C) used by the selected, competing technologies allows for more efficient systems, meaning that the cost of energy generated by concentrating solar power would be closer to the SunShot goal of $0.06 per kilowatt hour, a target set to make solar energy competitive with conventional energy sources. Because concentrating solar power can provide thermal storage, it also means that power could be supplied on demand, even when there is no sunlight.
Project Name: Gen3 Particle Pilot Plant: Integrated High-Temperature Particle System for CSP
Location: Albuquerque, NM
DOE Award Amount: $9,464,755
Awardee Cost Share: $6,676,553
Principal Investigator: Clifford Ho
Project Summary: This project will design and test a multi-megawatt thermal falling particle receiver concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) system in the first two Gen3 CSP phases. It will have the potential to operate for thousands of hours, provide 6 hours of energy storage, and heat a working fluid like supercritical carbon dioxide or air to a temperature of at least 700 °C. In Phase 3, if selected, the team will validate the ability to meet the Solar Energy Technologies Office CSP cost and performance goals via a commercial-scale test facility.
Major participants: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, King Saud University, Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (CSIRO, U. Adelaide, Australian National University), CNRS-PROMES, German Aerospace Center, EPRI, SolarDynamics, SolarReserve, Carbo Ceramics, Solex Thermal Science, Vacuum Process Engineering, Allied Mineral Products, Saudi Electricity Company
About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.
Material included in this blog was originally created and published by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.