Melting Salt to Create Electricity Just Makes Cents

I got a chance to read the WSJ last night and found another example of how industry is charging ahead with fantastic new ways to generate power using the sun and wind. It’s happening right near here at Hamilton Sundstrand, a division of United Technologies located in Connecticut. This company has developed a new partnership with US Renewables Group to develop power plants that use molten salt to generate electricity.

It’s an elegant scheme, beginning with a 1200-acre field of mirrors, that all point up to a tower 600 feet in the sky. Inside, salt is heated to 1050 degrees, and then the heated salt is pumped through a steam generator where turbines create electricity. The systems can run continuously at 50 megawatts–enough juice to power 50,000 homes.

“We think there’s a huge market out there,” said David Hess, the company president, saying he expects to do about $1 billion in solar sales over the next 15 years.

Of course, Sundstrand has no shortage of work. Their components make up $2.5 million per airplane for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner. And with 790 firm orders for this new jet on the books, that’s a full pipeline of business for more than a few decades.