The technology of supercritical steam uses only a small number of power stations, although this is a breakthrough in solar energy.
The experimental work was carried out in the Energy centre of CSIRO (CSIRO Energy Centre) in Newcastle, New South Wales. This station is known for its low emission levels, and that is a ground for research in the field of renewable energy. The center includes two solar power stations, surrounded by an array of more than 600 heliostats.
Supercritical solar steam is obtained by extreme heating of the material of the heat carrier (e.g. water) using sunlight. Extremely high heat is produced by a field of mirrors directing light to a Central tower. This increase in pressure causes the boiling point also increases and the latent heat of vaporization decreases.
Commercial solar thermal plants around the world uses subcritical steam, operating at similar temperatures and at low pressure. If all these stations will move to supercritical steam, will increase the efficiency and lower the cost of solar electricity.
A new world record was set thanks to a grant from the Australian Agency for renewable energy (ARENA) $5,68 million. In the future the company plans – development of advanced methods of energy storage. It will help to ensure the efficient operation of solar plants at any time of the day or night.