Skeptics of modern technology, behold: a newly opened solar plant in Sicily is able to continue generating electricity long after the sun goes down. The trick lies in the plant's use of salt to store up heat for later use.


The "Archimede" facility uses what's known as concentrated solar power, absorbing the sun's heat and later using it to boil water and drive electricity-yielding turbines. CSP plant differ from photovoltaic plants, which generate power directly from sunlight.

Most CSP plants use a synthetic oil to store turbine-driving heat, but Archimede uses molten salt, which possesses a heat capacity able to drive its temperature up over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when the sun starts to dip, the salt is still, as you can imagine, rather hot—hot enough to continue to boil water at night. [Guardian UK via Inhabitat]
Images via Angelantoni, Solar Thermal