Molten Salt Key to New Solar Power Project

Aerospace supplier teams with clean-fuel company on new plants
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 8:15 PM CST
George David, chairman & CEO of United Technologies Corp. addresses the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in New York, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. City leaders from around the globe gathered Tuesday for an...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A unit of United Technologies will join with clean-fuel firm US Renewables to store solar power in molten salt—enabling the sun’s rays to provide electricity even at night. Hamilton Sundstrand, best known as an aerospace-components supplier, says rising fossil-fuel prices have made a plan first hatched in the 1980s financially viable—it expects $1 billion in sales over 15 years.

A new entity called SolarReserve will market and operate the power plants, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plants will run continuously at 50 megawatts, enough power to supply 50,000 American households; they could generate 500 megawatts at peak power. Salt heated to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit loses only 1% of its heat in a day, making long-term energy storage possible.