Thermal energy storage systems (TES) are a key component of concentrated solar power (CSP) plants that generally use a NaNO3
mixture also known as solar salt as a thermal storage material. Improvements in TES materials are important to lower CSP costs, increase energy efficiency and competitiveness with other technologies. A novel alternative examined in this paper is the use of salt mixtures with lithium nitrate that help to reduce the salt’s melting point and improve thermal capacity. This in turn allows the volume of materials required to be reduced. Based on data for commercial plants and the expected evolution of the lithium market, the technical and economic prospects for this alternative are evaluated considering recent developments of Lithium Nitrates and the uncertain future prices of lithium. Through a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis it is concluded that some of the mixtures could allow a reduction in the costs of CSP plants, improving their competitiveness.
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