To this day universities and industry developed technologies like wind turbines, hydroelectric and solar thermal power plants, which already feed electricity grids all over the globe. However beside the infinite and costless availability of all renewable energy sources, the availability is also inconsistent from the short term perspective.
Thus one major obstacle researchers, all over the world, are tackling on the pathway into the century of sustainable electricity production is the development of energy and cost efficient storage systems. Only with new powerful storage methods power plants driven by sun wind or water will be able to produce electricity stable every day year-round.
Therefore the European research project TCS-Power aims to develop a heat storage system for new generations of concentrated solar power plants. The idea that scientists from research institutions and industry partners all over Europe are investigating is to store the heat collected from concentrated sun radiation during the day. In case of clouds blocking the sun or during nighttime this heat should be released from the storage system thus enabling the power plant to continue the electricity production.
The idea seems simple but many questions how to store heat cost efficient at high temperatures and for longer periods still have to be answered. The approach followed by the researchers in the TCS-Power consortium is to store the heat in a reversible chemical reaction. The heat delivered by the solar field drives an endothermic reaction of the storage material. When heat is demanded the reacted storage material is brought together with its gaseous reaction partner thus the exothermic back reaction takes place and the freed heat can be delivered to the power block.