ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Sandia National Laboratories will receive $10.5 million from the Department of Energy to research and design a cheaper and more efficient solar energy system.

The work focuses on refining a specific type of utility-scale solar energy technology that uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on a tower.

The heat from the concentrated sunlight is absorbed by either a liquid, gas or solid and stored or used immediately in a heat exchanger to generate electricity.

This type of energy, called concentrating solar power, is appealing because it can supply renewable energy -- even when the sun is not shining -- without using batteries for storage.

Current concentrating solar power systems can heat a substance to 565 degrees Celsius.

The goal of this new project is to reach temperatures greater than 700 C, which would boost efficiency and lower the cost of electricity generated from concentrating solar power.

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