The Brayton Energy project will integrate a solar power plant’s absorber, energy storage system, and power block into one system. By combining these elements, Brayton Energy hopes to develop a synergistic system that is less expensive to assemble, easier to permit and install, and easier to operate and maintain, resulting in low-cost electricity. This project was announced on September 16, 2015 at the Solar Power International conference. Read the press release.
Brayton Energy is coupling its novel solar absorber design with a high-temperature metal hydride thermal energy storage system. This pairing will power a high-efficiency supercritical carbon dioxide turbine engine. All of these components are co-located atop the solar power tower – a layout that departs from conventional designs, but reduces plant losses and simplifies installation and operation. It eliminates the need for costly piping and fluid connections between the receiver and a large centralized element, making the system ideal for modular implementation and growth.
The system configuration is made possible by the high power density achievable with a metal hydride thermal energy storage system – about 10 times higher than current technologies – being developed at Savannah River National Laboratory. This thermo-chemical system allows electricity to be generated at any time, even after the sun goes down – a capability that is not available to photovoltaic or wind turbine plants – but is compact enough to reside atop the tower.