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A distinguishing feature of concentrating solar power among other renewable technologies is its ability to include thermal energy storage at the point of power generation to handle the intermittencies of solar availability. The SunShot Initiative funds research and development (R&D) on sensible, latent, and thermochemical energy storage and related aspects within the industry, national laboratories and universities to achieve the following technical targets of thermal energy storage subsystems:
- Improve heat transfer and thermal energy storage media
- Thermal energy storage cost < $15/kWhth
- Exergetic efficiency > 95%
- Material degradation due to corrosion < 15 µm/year.
The R&D approaches toward these goals are broadly in the areas of:
- engineering heat transfer fluids for high temperature stability and thermophysical properties
- developing novel thermal energy storage methods to meet the technical and cost targets.