The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $24 million (£22m) to 10 research teams to advance the next-generation of concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies.
Five of the projects will focus on advancing industrial uses for this technology, specifically in the cement, hydrogen and chemicals sectors.
The other five projects will support DOE’s $100 million (£93m) ongoing efforts to develop next-generation CSP plants that can generate low cost electricity at any time of day.
CSP technologies use mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver and can be used to generate electricity using a turbine but can also be applied to deliver heat to a variety of industrial applications, like water desalination, food processing, chemical production and mineral processing.
The DOE has also released a roadmap, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to guide research and deployment of heliostats, which are mirrors that follow the sun and concentrate sunlight in CSP plants.
These components represent 30% – 40% of the cost of a CSP system so reducing the cost of heliostats can make a significant impact on DOE’s goal of $0.05 (£0.046)/kWh for CSP plants by 2030.
Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said: “Solar-thermal technologies provide us with a significant opportunity to upgrade and reduce emissions of industrial plants across the nation while meeting America’s energy needs with reliable, around the clock power generation.
“DOE’s investments will drive the innovation necessary to build out a clean energy economy and meet our climate goals while diversifying the sources of dependable and readily available clean energy.”