Finding alternative energy sources is a cause that many corporations and companies are attached to. And governments, along with entire cities, aren’t new to clinging onto new methods for saving energy, and costs. California, which has been known in the past to incorporate solar and wind energy, is now looking at opening a new solar plant, which uses molten salt to store and release energy. The permit was just approved recently, the company behind the plant, SolarReserve, announced late Wednesday.
SolarReserve is a California-based company, out of Santa Monica, and they are moving forward with their Rice Solar Energy Project, which they will launch 30 miles from Blythe, California. The 150-megawatt solar plant is said to be able to power the equivalent of 68,000 homes over the course of a year. Together with a 25-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the plant should be able to bring plenty of energy to California over time.
SolarReserve isn’t new to the solar plants powered by molten salt. They have plans to build a plant in Spain, and they are also looking to build more in Sicily and Nevada. With the solar plant opening near Blythe, giant mirrors that are controlled by computers to judge the best point to reflect the sun’s rays will be used to point that energy at a single tower at the center of the plant. They will point that energy at the tower, which will then lead to a series of pipes where a molten salt mixture will be stored. That mixture of molten salt will be able to store the collected energy, as the heat from the sun heats up the liquefied salt to over 1,000 Fahrenheit. The molten salt, heated, is then transfered to a generator where it will be turned into electricity. The cooled salt is then transferred to the pipes above, where it will be heated again.
While the initial permit for the solar plant has been approved, SolarReserve is now waiting for approval from the Bureau of Land Management, as well as the Western Area Power Administration, before they can move forward with the construction and usage of the plant.