Can solar power plant to produce electricity at night?

Power plants based on solar energy, are perhaps one of the most promising industries involved in the development of clean energy. However, they have one very significant drawback: in cloudy weather or at night, they are “idle.” Is it possible to get them to work in the dark? Let’s deal.

As power plants will produce energy at night

As informed the editorial office Phys.org thanks to the joint efforts of specialists from the University of Curtin (Australia), as well as companies United Sun Systems and Thermal ITP has developed a new type of thermal battery that will help power plants to operate at full capacity even in the conditions of the night.

“Storing renewable energy has long been a stumbling block to the energy sector, but our prototype thermal battery is capable of storing, and as needed to allocate the solar energy at any time of the day,” said one of the authors Professor Craig Buckley.

What is a thermal battery and how it works

The thermal battery can store energy and store it as long as, roughly speaking, “solar energy will not be enough”. At this point, the previously stored energy goes to the plant instead of solar energy. After the sun is again able to provide full operation of the turbine plant, the battery will again begin to accumulate charge.

This is interesting: How does energy from the Sun?

In fact, the idea of developing such a battery is not new. To date, solar power is already used in lithium batteries. But they are used only as a reserve and give it for the needs of powered objects as well as your phone starts to lose charge after you unplug it from the power source. In the case of thermal battery is much more interesting.

“At that time, as a lithium battery stores electrical energy that can be used to provide electricity when the sun does not Shine, a thermal battery stores heat gained from sunlight. It can be used to run a turbine that will produce electricity. This technology allows to obtain up to 46 kilowatts of power and is ideal for remotely located industrial facilities or settlements.”

Energy conservation is as follows: when solar energy is available in abundance, it is stored in fuel cells based on hydrogen gas. In that moment, when night falls or the sky is covered with clouds, hydrogen interacts with metal ions. Due to the difference in temperatures between hydrogen and metal, the reaction occurs with the formation of the hydride (the connection of the metal with hydrogen), which generates heat. It feeds the turbine. After cooling, hydrogen and metal apart, allowing you to re-accumulate solar energy.

Thus, it appears that solar energy is simply “stored” to make the installation work and allows you to get electricity (with minimal losses) in a dark or cloudy time of day.

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