Coal producer Shenhua invests in sun

Coal producer Shenhua invests in sun

That molten salt can be used immediately to superheat water, or stored in insulated tanks to drive the thermal-power process during cloudy weather or at night.

Shenhua Group in China, the biggest coal producer in the world, and the American company SolarReserve intent to invest 2 billion dollars in concentrated solar power.

The aim is to realize 1GW of solar projects in China.

Shenhua Group

Shenhua Group, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, intents to build 1GW of solar thermal power plants in the next five years.

That’s 10% of the target for the whole of China, with 10 GW of additional solar thermal energy the next five years.


Shenhua Group has partnered with SolarReserve, an American company that can provide a special storage technology builds concentrated solar plants which provide energy night and day.

In the United States SolarReserve already built a plant of 110 megawatts, which is as reliable as conventional power according to the company.

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)

More than 10,000 solar mirrors will concentrate sunlight on a 200 meter high tower with molten salt. This salt is heated to more than 500 degrees Celsius. The storaged energy will be used to drive steam turbines.

From a press release by SolarReserve

‘(…) SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said:

“Our 1,000 megawatt partnership with Shenhua is at a scale that will lead to substantially lower costs while contributing clean and renewable energy to China’s growing power needs.” (…)

Shenhua Group CEO Dr. Ling Wen said:

“As part of Shenhua’s strategic objective to become a world-class clean energy provider, we are very interested in developing utility-scale concentrating solar power plants, and we look forward to working with SolarReserve in bringing its world-class proprietary technology to China.”(…)’

Molten salt reactor

A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a class of generation IV nuclear fission reactor in which the primary nuclear reactor coolant, or even the fuel itself, is a molten salt mixture. Molten Salt Reactors run at higher temperatures than water-cooled reactors for higher thermodynamic efficiency, while staying at low vapor pressure.

The nuclear fuel may be solid or dissolved in the coolant itself. In many designs, the nuclear fuel is dissolved in the molten fluoride salt coolant as uranium tetrafluoride. The fluid becomes critical in a graphite core which serves as a moderator.

Solid fuel designs rely on ceramic fuel dispersed in a graphite matrix, with the molten salt providing low pressure, high temperature cooling. The salts are much more efficient than compressed helium at removing heat from the core, reducing the need for pumping and piping and reducing the size of the core.

Solar Reserve CEO William R. Gould explains how it works

Energy storage

Environmentally friendly molten salt is the working fluid that both captures the sun’s energy and stores it until electricity is needed: day and night. Together with the SolarReserve technology design, the use of molten salt represents the most flexible, efficient and cost-effective form of large-scale energy storage.


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