The Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant: one step closer to energy storage of the future

Energy has always fueled progress. Electricity has become as essential as sunshine, air or water. There have been endlessly innovative ways to generate it, but when it comes to storing the energy, innovation seems to have stalled.

The problem with renewable energy is the lack of continuous supply: solar power works only when it’s sunny, wind power only when it’s windy and wave power only when the sea is not too rough. Photovoltaic is a unique concept, if looked at how fast this technology has been growing. In the next decade, global demand could be significantly fueled by solar power.

Today, just 0.5% of the electricity comes from photovoltaics worldwide. It may seem like a small number, but in 1998 this was 0.003% and if the trend continues, in 2028 it will grow to 50%. Therefore, by then half of the energy demand could come from solar powered plants. However, there is a big problem that needs to be solved: the problem of demand between day and night peaks.

To close that gap, conventional power was always kept by the grid operators in such an amount that exactly matched the difference. But then, a lot of solar energy can and is going to waste, absent a solution for storage. The first solar power-tower station that can produce electricity 24 hours a day has been built in the south of Spain. Its scale, however, is enormous, spreading over 185 ha.

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