An international initiative has been launched to reduce the cost of heliostats, key components of concentrating solar thermal power systems. The Australian Solar Thermal Research Institute has joined the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and U.S. Sandia National Laboratories in forming the Heliostat Consortium (HelioCon).

Heliostats track the sun to reflect and direct solar radiation to a receiver, where it can be stored as heat for long-duration energy storage and converted into electric power. A single concentrating solar plant can incorporate more than 10,000 heliostats that account for up to 50% of system construction and currently incur high operating and maintenance costs. HelioCon will leverage the expertise of researchers worldwide to achieve a target heliostat cost of $50 per square meter and a kWh cost of $0.05 per kilowatt-hour for next-generation concentrating solar power plants, which incorporate thermal energy storage.

HelioCon will develop standards, metrology, techno-economic analysis and field deployment technologies to address heliostat costs. The project also plans to increase domestic manufacturing of solar technologies and to bring more professionals into clean energy careers.

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