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NREL Concentrating Solar Power Team Receives Two Awards Under DOE's National Laboratory Call for Research and Development Projects

October 8, 2009

In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Program initiated a call for proposals for foundational photovoltaics and concentrating solar power (CSP) research and development activities among the DOE national laboratories. In CSP, DOE specifically requested proposals for (1) research on advanced heat-transfer fluids and novel thermal storage and (2) enhancing capabilities for testing and evaluating advanced concepts.

Subsequently, on October 8, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the proposals that will be funded, which include two CSP proposals for nearly $4.4 million. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will receive funding within each of the categories described below:

  • Advanced Thermal Energy Storage and Solar-Field Test and Evaluation Facilities (funding of $4.4 million).  This project will enhance and expedite manufacturing, testing, and evaluation of advanced CSP technologies by upgrading and adding equipment and facilities used to characterize new optical reflector and absorber materials, heat-transfer fluids, storage fluids, and storage materials, as well as storage and collector systems and subsystems. These testing capabilities will support the U.S. solar industry in making CSP technologies cost-competitive for intermediate- and base-load power generation. The equipment and capabilities supported by these awards will be integrated into NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), expected to begin construction next year, and the Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC), a public/private partnership announced earlier this year.
  • Nanomaterials for Thermal Energy Storage in Concentrating Solar Power Plants (funding of $1 million). This project will develop new nanomaterials and encapsulation strategies that could lead to significant improvements in the thermal energy storage density for CSP systems. The nanostructure research leverages NREL’s existing fundamental materials research program.

These awards complement ongoing NREL research and development in support of CSP. Over the coming months, NREL will reach out to CSP stakeholders to refine the plans for the facilities to meet the near- and long-term needs of the CSP industry.

For more information, see the National Laboratory Call for Research and Development Projects, as well as the DOE Press Release.


—Don Gwinner