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Gemasolar Solar Plant Stores Heat to Produce Energy at Night

Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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Featured on Episode of the 2011-2012 season


We go to southern Spain, where the first thermo-solar power plant to commercially supply non-stop power is operational. Engineers at the Gemasolar Solar Plant have solved the problem of where to get energy when the sun goes down. The plant uses a field of mirrors that focus the sun's energy on a tower through which molten salt is circulated. The molten salt stores the sun's heat and in turn heats water, making steam that produces turbine-generated electricity, even at night. Al Goodman went for a closer look near Cordoba, Spain.

Related Instructional Resources

More about Gemasolar from inhabit.com
Torresolar Energy website
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Gemasolar facts
What You Need to Know About Renewable Resources: Solar

Classroom Activities

Science, Math and Visual Arts. Classroom lessons and activities for grades three to eight. Grades 5-8: The Importance of the Sun: An Introduction and Overview of Solar Energy. Grades 7-8: Students will learn that sunlight is the underlying component of energy use. Students will examine atoms as the basic building blocks of matter, including electrons, protons, and neutrons, and explore how these building blocks are used with the element silicon (Si) to produce energy. Grades 7-8: This lesson plan will guide students toward answers by exploring the many factors that influence how solar panels are manufactured. Grades 7-8: students will identify and understand the basic concepts of how photovoltaic solar panels work as a renewable energy source and use best-fit mathematical regression models using a TI-83 or TI-84 calculator to make predictions and solve real-life problems concerning solar energy. Grades 3-5: Students learn how the sun can be used for energy. Grades 3-4: students investigate the thermal energy storage capacities of different test materials to determine which to use in solar building design. Grades 6-8: Students first experiment with a virtual solar cooker to discover the mathematical relationship among reflection, transmission and absorption. Then they apply their knowledge to building and testing a solar cooker of their own invention.

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