Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE) for the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. The project is being developed by Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, LLC. The project is located 14 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada on 2,250 acres leased from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The 100 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) project will have a 640-foot tower that will feature a molten salt collection and storage system which will store the solar thermal energy for up to 10 hours. Storing thermal energy will allow “steady, uninterrupted power during peak electricity demand, despite cloud cover, and even at night,” according to a DOE press release, storing thermal energy will allow “steady, uninterrupted power during peak electricity demand, despite cloud cover, and even at night.”
The project will feature up to 17,500 heliostats, or mirrors, which will be aimed at a focal point in the molten salt tower, and the tower will heat the salt up to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a salt tower reduces the need for generators that emit carbon dioxide, which are used to supplement solar power generation during times when there is little or no sun.
The project will produce about 500,000 megawatt hours a year, enough to power over 43,000 houses. It is expected to prevent 290,000 tons of carbon emissions a year, equivalent to 20 percent of the yearly generation of an average coal-fired plant in the U.S.
Power generated by the project will be sold to Nevada Power Company, a subsidiary of NV Energy, Inc. The project is expected to start generating power in 2013.
“Nevada continues to be a leader when it comes to the generation of renewable energy, and this project will not only create hundreds of jobs in the state but will also bring additional clean energy to the region,” said Chu.
“Today’s announcement is about one thing: creating good paying clean energy jobs right here in Nevada,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Innovative companies like SolarReserve are helping ensure that Nevada can lead the nation in clean energy production, putting people back to work and pushing America toward energy independence. They deserve all the public and private support we can muster. ”
The project will help Nevada meet its renewable energy standard which requires 25 percent of the power generated to come from renewable sources by 2025.