China’s Shenhua Group has made a major announcement with regards to development of solar thermal power projects in China.
Shenhua Group will work with US-based SolarReserve to set up 1 GW of solar thermal power projects enabled with storage facility. The agreement is aimed at supplying the grid with 100% renewable energy baseload.
Storage solutions for renewable energy projects in China is critical as the capacity is being added at a much faster pace compared to the growth in transmission capacity infrastructure. Every year China comes out with report stating that a substantial amount of electricity generated from wind energy projects was wasted due to absence of transmission infrastructure. Most of these projects are in remote areas with significantly high wind energy resources.
Solar power capacity, which is being added at a record rate every year in China, may face a similar problem. While storage solutions for solar photovoltaic power and wind energy projects on a large-scale remains untested and very costly, that is not the case in case of solar thermal power projects.
If China has to achieve its very ambitious renewable energy capacity targets it must work on multiple fronts of distributed renewable energy projects, expansion of transmission grids and energy storage solutions.
Storage through oils and salts is common among solar thermal power projects around the world. Most recent examples being in South Africa where projects are supplying electricity throughout the day, and night!