How does a solar power station generate electricity in the night?

They don’t, obviously. Although there are some obscure technologies that can produce small amounts of power at night, they are not as efficient as the majority of solar power systems.

The choice is yours.

  1. Other power sources, such as wind turbines, can still generate power at night. However, you will need less power at night because most industries and shops are closed. Or…
  2. A large-scale energy storage device, such as a bank of batteries, is used to charge the solar panels during daylight and then to supply energy to the power grid at evening.

…or, of course, a combination of both.

Bulk storage doesn’t necessarily have to be battery-powered, but there are literally dozens more options that are being used around the globe.

  • Pumped hydro is where there are two lakes, one at a higher elevation than the other. You pump water from one lake to another during the day. At night, the water flows back up through several turbines to produce electricity.
  • Molten sodium, or molten sal – you can use daytime electricity for melting large quantities of a normally solid material with a high melting temperature. Then at night you pump water through tubes through the material. This flashes into steam which turns a steam turbine to produce electricity.
  • Gravity systems are used to slowly lift extremely heavy objects up on a tower if there is enough power. Then it turns a generator and slowly falls back down at night.
  • Flywheel systems are where you spin a heavy flywheel on a low friction bearing to a ridiculously high speed during daylight and have it turn a generator at night to generate electricity.
  • Pneumatic systems are where you pressurize large air tanks during the day and then release pressure to turn a gas turbine nightly.

The list could go on. There are many possibilities, but as insane as they may seem, all five systems I have described are currently in use around the globe.

 

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