Concentrated Solar Panel

To reduce the cost of energy storage, major efforts are being directed towards the use of encapsulated phase change materials to be incorporated in concentrating solar power (CSP) plants to increase the capacity factor and address utility load requirements.

Being able to save the energy collected from the sun is a game changer, and phase change materials are seen as the next frontier in solar and other renewable energy. With funding from the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC), the CERC has built a CSP plant on the USF/Tampa campus. This concentrating solar thermal pilot power plant can produce 50 kW of electricity.

The collected solar energy is translated into thermal heat which is stored in phase change materials, which are also under development at the CERC. The plant will be used for continued research and student hands-on education.