SRI, DOE to conduct CSP research

Southern Research Institute (SRI) has signed an agreement with the US energy Department (DOE) to conduct jointly-funded research to support development of high-temperature thermochemical energy storage systems for concentrating solar power (CSP).

DOE in May awarded the institute $836,697 to conduct the research under its SunShot Initiative – a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before 2020.

Under the program, DOE supports efforts by private companies, academia, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kWh.

The institute’s cost share for this project is $209,175.It is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

By adding thermal storage to CSP facilities they are able to operate at significantly higher capacity factors and produce approximately double the energy for the same size power facility. 

In addition, the production of electricity can be shifted to occur at the same time as peak power demand, making the electricity much more valuable.

According to DOE, the institute’s research will focus on developing a thermochemical energy storage system (TCES) that uses low-cost calcium carbonate and silicate materials in an endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle.

The cycle stores energy during the endothermic step and releases energy during the exothermic step, both of which proceed at temperatures at or above 650°C.

This work advances the proposed technology readiness level of the TCES system by demonstrating the system’s key advantages, including its high efficiencies and its potential to meet a cost target of $15 per kWhr thermal.