Add salt to solar for light when the sun goes down

One of the toughest nuts to crack for renewable energy has been the inability of producing light from solar when the sun goes down. Solar Reserve, a Santa Monica, California company, may have solved this conundrum.

The key is salt.

Solar Reserve has filed an application with California regulators to build a 150-megawatt solar farm that would store seven hours of the sun’s energy in molten salt. Salt can release stored heat to create steam – when it’s cloudy or at night – and drive an electricity-generating turbine.

If the application’s approved, the Sonoran Desertwould be home to the Rice Solar Energy Project, and, according to Solar Reserve’s license application, would  “generate steady and uninterrupted power during hours of peak electricity demand.”

Up to 17,500 large mirrors — each 24 feet by 28 feet — will be attached to 12-foot pedestals. The mirrors, called heliostats, will be laid out in a circle around a 538-foot concrete tower.

An intriguing idea that’s been rumored for months, this could be an important breakthrough in energy storage that could help speed up the implementation of a national Smart Grid, politicians notwithstanding of course.

For more on this fascinating story, see

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