A team of researchers from Madrid is developing a thermal energy storage system that uses molten silicon to store up to 10 times more energy than existing thermal storage options. The hope is to develop the technology into a new generation of low-cost solar thermal stations to store solar energy in urban centers.
Storage is the current major challenge faced by renewable energy sources like wind and solar – so if these are to become viable alternatives, drastic improvements to our ability to store surplus energy are required so that cities can draw on that energy at night, and at other times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
Current battery technology just isn’t developed enough yet, so researchers across the industry have been exploring a range of new ideas to improve energy storage, including a commercialized solar thermal energy system that stores concentrated heat from the sun in the form of molten salts (potassium/calcium/sodium nitrates etc.), and converts the heat back to electricity via a thermal generator.
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