World?s first molten salt concentrating solar power plant inaugurated

The first commercially operated, integrated solar combined-cycle (ISCC) power plant using molten salt as its heat transfer fluid – the Archimede project – was inaugurated in mid-July at Priolo Gargallo in Syracuse, Sicily.

The plant’s 1,500 solar receivers, installed in a 30,000-square-meter field of parabolic collectors, were supplied by Archimede Solar Energy, a joint venture between Angelantoni Industries Spa and Siemens Energy. 

The plant has a capacity of about 5 megawatts electrical (MWel). The high-temperature steam produced drives the steam turbine in the adjacent combined-cycle power plant to generate electricity for the Italian energy provider Enel.

Molten salt receivers are a promising technology for solar thermal power plants. These collector tubes can reach temperatures of up to 550° Celsius.

The use of molten salt in the receivers can significantly increase the efficiency of solar thermal power plants and reduce costs. In fact, molten salt is also utilized as the heat storage medium: the thermal energy thus stored is used to generate power at night.

In January this year, construction began on a new molten salt receiver fabrication facility in the Italian town of Massa Martana. While initially this plant will have be capable, starting in early 2011, of manufacturing some 75,000 solar receivers annually, plans call for upping production capacity to 140,000 tubes per year.