Inspenet, August 20, 2023.
The German HybridKraft project, in collaboration with the companies John Cockerill, Frenell and BASF New Business, together with the Fraunhofer ISE research institute, is developing an alternative in which excess photovoltaic energy is used to keep molten salts at suitable temperatures. on an electric heater. This initiative, supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, focuses on building this solution.
Taking advantage of solar energy is feasible and one of the ways to achieve it is through thermodynamic concentration solar power plants or CSP (Concentrated Solar Power). In theory, these plants have the capacity to generate clean electricity on demand both during the day and at night , and can also be incorporated into industrial facilities to provide steam for production processes.
However, in practice there are still several challenges, both due to the high cost of CSP technology and the difficulty of maintaining the proper temperature in the heat transfer fluid. A solution could emerge from the combination of concentrated solar power plants with photovoltaics .
HybridKraft and its solar power plants
The HybridKraft consortium is working on optimizing the design and performance of a hybrid power plant that integrates solar thermal and photovoltaic systems, both in terms of individual components and overall system integration. Specifically, they are developing an electric heater capable of generating thermal power in the range of 50 to 100 MWth.
This heater uses surplus photovoltaic energy to raise the temperature of the molten salts used in the thermodynamic solar power plant. John Cockerill’s engineering team, with the support of Fraunhofer ISE experts, has already created a prototype with a capacity of 1 MWth , which will be tested at an experimental facility of the German institute. Based on the results obtained and the simulations carried out, an electric heater with a greater capacity will be designed, which will be evaluated in combination with the Fresnel collectors.
Basically, Fresnel heat collectors using molten salt directly in the absorber tube can provide heat up to 545°C; but with the help of photovoltaic energy and a heater, the outlet temperature of the heat transfer fluid can be optimized.
“We can use it to increase the storage density of the molten salt and the operating temperature of the turbine and thus the efficiency of the system,” explains project manager Shahab Rohani of Fraunhofer ISE. “But we can also reduce CSP production costs by optimizing the size of the Fresnel collector field based on the heat input from the electric heater.”
Source and photo: https://ecoinventos.com/hybridkraft/amp/