The German Aerospace Center has commissioned MAN Energy Solutions to build a molten-salt circuit for its solar-research facility.
Bosses at the Aerospace Center believe the circuit will help to further improve the process of generating and storing solar energy at very high temperatures.
The center in Jülich has for ten years conducted research on concentrated solar power (CSP), which it carries out using Germany’s only solar tower.
A second solar tower has now been built and MAN Energy will be responsible for the detailed engineering of the molten-salt circuit, its manufacture and installation, and its commissioning.
The overall target of the project is to commercialize molten-salt technology as an important part of the energy transition.
Norbert Anger of MAN Energy Solutions in Deggendorf said: “Already today, renewable sources supply almost 50 per cent of the German electricity mix, with this set to rise to at least 65 per cent by 2030.
“Storage solutions will therefore play an increasingly central role in ensuring a reliable and efficient energy-supply. Molten-salt circuits already have large storage capacities and can store energy, for example from renewable-energy sources, for a particularly long time and at low cost”.
Molten-salt energy storage uses salt as a storage medium. The salt is first heated to a temperature of around 565°C and then fed into a hot storage tank. The thermal energy can be stored in the tank for several days and – if required at a later date – can be converted back into electricity, for example by means of a steam turbine.
During this process, the salt is cooled to around 290°C and is then available for further storage processes in the cold storage tank.
Miriam Ebert, Project Manager at the German Aerospace Center´s Institute for Solar Research, said: “We analyze how liquid salts behave at even higher temperatures.
“Our goal is to raise the salt temperature to 600°C. In doing so, we are striving to further increase efficiency and also reduce the cost of electricity production.”
“On a small scale, the molten-salt circuit in our pilot plant works almost like a larger, solar-thermal power plant. This means that our findings can be scaled up to an industrial level.”