Portugal takes salt for a new energy recipe
To further advance solar thermal energy, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with the Portuguese University of Évora and European industrial partners, has built and commissioned a unique test facility: The Évora Molten Salt Platform (EMSP).23 May 2022
Although the cost of electricity from solar thermal power is currently higher than from photovoltaics, solar thermal power plants have a decisive advantage due to their integrated heat storage: they also function when it is cloudy and at night. This makes them one of the few options so far for providing renewable energy on a constant and controllable basis. In correspondingly sunny areas, they could therefore contribute to securing the base load in the future - as a sustainable alternative to gas, coal or nuclear power plants. To promote this option, the Évora Molten Salt Platform (EMSP) in Portugal, this year's partner country, is one of the world's first plants to use liquid salt instead of thermal oil as a heat transfer medium. Following the official inauguration in the run-up to HANNOVER MESSE 2022 on April 28 in the presence of representatives of the project partners and the Portuguese and German governments, DLR is now providing information in Hannover on the potential of the new technology.
"The activities developed so far at EMSP prove and validate the feasibility of this type of solar thermal power plant. Considering the goals of the energy transition and the energy crisis that Europe is currently experiencing, today's inauguration is a special day: for us as a university, for the region, for Portugal and for Europe," said University of Evora Rector Prof. Ana Costa Freitas at the official inauguration, adding, "Harnessing the energy of our sun in such a productive way is certainly a niche with great possibilities. At the same time, the project is an example of excellent research, good technology transfer and productive networks." At the inauguration, Prof. Karsten Lemmer, member of the DLR Executive Board and responsible for Innovation, Transfer and Scientific Infrastructures, formulated the goal of quickly reaching industrial applicability of the new technology: "The Évora Molten Salt Platform is an important step in advancing solar thermal energy as a technology for the energy transition. The test facility enables us to test the use of liquid salt on a power plant scale for its reliability and operational safety. Both are mandatory criteria for moving quickly from laboratory scale to industrial application and increasing competitiveness. DLR is one of the pioneers of this technology: Already today, almost every solar thermal power plant contains a piece of our know-how. We want to continue this success story together with our partners from science and industry."
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