ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. Department of Energy broke ground on its Generation 3 concentrating solar-thermal pilot facility at Sandia National Laboratories on Friday. A demonstration was held demonstrating high-temperature technology that can be used for energy storage, power production, industrial process heat, and fuel production.

According to a DOE press release, this is the culmination of a $100 million research effort in developing next-generation concentrating solar-thermal power plants and showcasing storage technology that could provide one gigawatt of storage for one hour at a single plant. The release states that this is part of achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of 100% clean energy economy by 2050.

“Next-generation CSP has the potential to be a game-changer,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “This pilot facility will demonstrate how CSP systems can meet the challenges of providing long-duration energy storage while reducing costs and complexity for solar thermal technology. At the same time, it also provides a pathway to commercialization of industrial process heat.”

Sandia Labs got $25 million to build, test, and operate the facility at their National Solar Thermal Test Facility. Researchers in Saudi Arabia and Australia will assist in the process by testing variants of key system components. The pilot is slated for completion in 2024.