Technology

Can a solar power plant generate electricity at night?

Solar Power Plantsenergy is probably one of the most promising industries engaged in the production of clean energy. However, they have one very significant drawback: on cloudy weather or at night they “stand idle”. Is it possible to make them work in the dark? Let's figure it out.

How power plants will generate energy at night

As the editors of Phys.org, thanks to the joint efforts of specialists from Curtin University (Australia), as well as United Sun Systems and ITP Thermal, a new type of thermal battery was developed, which will help power plants to operate at full capacity even in night conditions.

"The storage of renewable energy has long beenis a stumbling block in the energy sector, but our prototype of a heat battery is capable of storing solar energy at any time of the day as needed, ”said one of the authors, Professor Craig Buckley.

What is a thermal battery and how does it work

Thermal battery can store energy andkeep it until, roughly speaking, “the sun’s energy is not enough.” At this point, the previously accumulated energy goes to work the power station instead of solar energy. After the sun can once again ensure the full operation of the station turbines, the battery will again begin to accumulate charge.

This is interesting: How is the energy of the Sun born?

In fact, the idea of ​​developing a similar batterynot new Today, lithium batteries are already used in solar power plants. But they are used only as a stock and give it away for the needs of powered objects as well as your phone starts to lose charge after you disconnect it from the power source. In the case of a thermal battery, everything is much more interesting.

"While the lithium battery storeselectrical energy that can be used to provide electricity when the sun does not shine, the thermal battery stores heat from the accumulated sunlight. This can be used to operate a turbine that will produce electricity. This technology provides up to 46 kW of energy and is ideal for remotely located industrial enterprises or settlements. "

Energy conservation is as follows: when solar energy is abundant, it is stored in hydrogen-based fuel cells. At the moment when night falls or the sky is covered with clouds, hydrogen reacts with metal ions. Because of the difference in temperature between hydrogen and metal, a reaction occurs with the formation of a hydride (i.e., a combination of a metal with hydrogen), as a result of which heat is released. That is what goes to power the turbine power. After cooling, the hydrogen and metal are separated, allowing solar energy to be stored again.

Thus, it turns out that solar energy is simply “stored up” for the operation of the installation and makes it possible to produce electricity (with minimal losses) in the dark or cloudy time of day.

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