Thermal energy storage. The CSP plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy. Source: wikipedia.orgThermal energy storage. The CSP plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy. Source: wikipedia.orgA 100-kilowatt (kW) thermal power demonstration plant in Salerno, Italy, uses sand to produce and store energy. Mirrors focus sunlight to heat the sand. Up to 270 tons of hot sand is stored in the plant’s solar receiver and is then used to create steam for energy production.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology, used by this plant, often uses heated molten salt to produce energy after sunset. The Salerno plant uses common silica sand, which developers say is cheaper. Run by the Italian company Magaldi Group, production is set to start later this year, reports Bloomberg Business.

The plant can produce about 500 kW of energy with one turbine, or roughly enough to power a small town. More turbines can be added for increased power. The facility can also work at night, producing steam for another six hours using the thermal energy stored in the heated sand, says Matteo Mauro, a company engineer.

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