If you live on a rotating planet or have ever heard Bill Withers, you know solar power has its limits. We need electricity even after clouds roll in or the sun goes down (unless you’re a goth and enjoy total darkness).
Which is why an award-winning solar project in Spain is so awesome. The Gemasolar plant can store 15 hours’ worth of heat, which means it’s regularly able to produce energy around the clock. The plant delivered energy 24/7 for 36 days straight in 2013.
Climate Central has the nitty-gritty:
The plant is small by power station standards, producing 20 megawatts of electricity — enough for 25,000 homes, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30,000 tonnes a year.
It has 2,650 mirrors, known as heliostats, which cover an area of 457 acres (185 hectares). These train the Sun’s rays onto a central tower, where they heat molten salt to more than double the boiling point of water. More heat is produced than is needed for maximum power, so the surplus is stored in molten salt tanks until it can be used during cloudy periods or at night.
Torresol Energy built the concentrated solar project near Seville in 2011. While the plant’s output is relatively small, Torresol Energy believes “that it, or a series of similar plants, can be scaled up to provide much larger populations with renewable energy.”
So even if your special ladyfriend (i.e. the sun) has left you, and your house just ain’t no home, at least you can still charge your iPad, right?
- New Design Delivers Round-the-Clock Solar Power, Climate Central
Get Grist in your inbox