Simultaneously Generating Electricity and Storable Heat with a Hybrid Solar Energy System

A hybrid solar energy system project is aimed at advancing new solar conversion and storage technology options that can enable a much higher penetration of solar energy into the U.S. energy mix.

The breakthrough technology can simultaneously generate electricity and storable heat. It has the potential to enable production of renewable power at grid-competitive prices, along with high-quality thermal energy for power producers and industrial facility operators. The new technology maximizes the amount of heat that can be derived from solar panels and could play a role in opening the microgrid market for dispatchable electricity and solar energy use in industrial process heating.

With funding from the Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the team composed of GTI, University of California at Merced (UC Merced), and MicroLink Devices, Inc. recently completed successful testing of the hybrid system and met critical ARPA-E project milestones. Based on cost-benefit analysis, the research team is proposing to scale up and demonstrate a 60 kW thermal (up to 600°C) collector with particle thermal energy storage for on-demand process heating at an industrial plant in California.

Financial support to develop this hybrid solar energy technology was also provided by Utilization Technology Development (UTD), a not-for-profit corporation. This collaboration of nineteen industry-leading utilities creates, develops, tests, demonstrates, and deploys new energy-efficient natural gas end-use technologies for their ratepayers, communities, and the environment.

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