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Solar-to-salt energy start-up gets $140 million in financing

LA Times Money & Co. Blog  4:00 AM, September 19, 2008

From Times staff writer Edward Silver:

Money may be evaporating on Wall Street, but $140 million is on its way into the accounts of a promising Santa Monica-based solar start-up.

SolarReserve, an offshoot of aerospace giant Rocketdyne, tackles the challenge of intermittency -- storing energy when the sun don't shine.

At the core of the utility-scale solution is a simple substance: salt, specifically a combination of sodium and potassium nitrate. It's the inventive way the salt is used that prodded venture investors to reach for their checkbooks this week to provide second-round financing for the firm.

Saltshaker_2 In SolarReserve's blueprint, arrays of specialized mirrors, called heliostats, track the sun's path and concentrate the heat on receiving towers that turn the salt molten. The salt holds its heat long enough to enable electric power companies to shift their output to peak times or nighttime. That power can fetch a premium price when demand is most intense and coal typically fills the bill.

Chief Executive Terry Murphy plugs the flexibility of the system, a traditional weak spot for renewables: "If you put energy into molten salt, you can store it in an insulated tank and use it on demand. We liken it to pumped solar," he said.

The technique proved itself in the Solar Two test project in the California desert, sponsored by the Department of Energy. Rocketdyne crafted some of the key technology for Solar Two and will equip SolarReserve's expansive plants



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 05:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The technique proved itself in the Solar Two test project in the California desert, sponsored by the Department of Energy.

This reminds me: I want a good percentage of all the sponsoring of tests like this, and all the bail-outs that my tax money is funding (plus the tax money of a few other of my com-patriots).

The right-wing 'flush it down the toilet' criminals and the selfish rich who took advantage of the hole they tried to build have all made a deep mistake. While it was only a few of us who said that history showed that capitalism doesn't work, is easily manipulated and requires bail-outs every 5-10 years (and the Great Depression was no fluke)...now there will be armies of us who know this and will refuse to listen to pandering 'representatives' or otherwise cooperate with their corporate socialism.

Rocketdyne...I grew up with them in my backyard. They left a huge tainted scar in the water supply, and for all their alleged imagination they couldn't help tossing engineers out of work whenever the feds got a skinny budget or gave the money to someone more compliant. Now they are using DOE money to prove their ideas and equipment...I want my percentage.

/rant

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 07:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I lived in the San Fernando Valley for 27 years and was likewise appalled by the pollution of the Simi Valley aquifer by percholorate from Rocketdynes Chatsworth test facillity.  I am glad, howerver, to see them putting their expertise to more beneficial uses.  The ability to time shift the availability of solar power is important.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 10:21:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am glad, howerver, to see them putting their expertise to more beneficial uses.  The ability to time shift the availability of solar power is important.

I don't disagree. I just am grousing at the ability of schools and corporations to suck money from us all, then patent what they develop...so that I get to pay for it again at top dollar.

If it is going to be capiralism, then I want a piece. If it is socialism, then lower the prices so that we all really profit, not just the execs.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 11:35:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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