The Department of Energy has awarded $10 million over five years for two university-led projects to advance the technological development of concentrating solar power (CSP). The award is part of two programs: SunShot Initiative, a federally funded program whose goal is to help solar energy become cost competitive with other energy sources by 2020; and the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, which brings together university teams from different scientific disciplines to focus on innovation.
The grant awardees are:
- University of California – Los Angeles ($5 million over five years) is leading a team with researchers from Yale University and the University of California – Berkeley to investigate liquid metals as potential heat transfer fluids with the ability to withstand higher temperatures.
- University of Arizona ($5 million over five years) is teaming with researchers from Arizona State University and Georgia Tech to develop and demonstrate new, molten salt-based, fluids as possible alternatives to traditional heat transfer fluids.
CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat that can be used to produce electricity. Therefore, heat transfer fluids are a key component of CSP systems the the grants were awarded to universities that are focused on improving heat transfer fluids. This advancement will increase efficiency and lower costs of CSP systems.
“Advanced concentrating solar power systems represent a promising pathway for utilities to provide reliable, affordable solar electricity to American families and businesses,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Chu. “The investments made today as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy will help accelerate commercialization of new, lower cost renewable energy technologies and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”