Company SolarReserve has just completed the first stage of a utility-scale solar project in Nevada. The 110 megawatt solar power plant will use molten salt to store energy gathered during the day, and will be able to deliver electricity to Las Vegas after the sun goes down. The project is due to be operational by 2013.
The 100-foot receiver on top of the tower will gather energy from a vast field of 10,000 large mirrors surrounding the tower.
SolarReserve’s technology is different from previous salt storage systems. This system is the only one that will use fluid-salt, heated to about 1,000 degrees. It will be pumped up from a base and then circulated into another storage tank. When power is needed, it will go through a heat exchanger on the ground to make steam that will drive an electricity turbine.
Hopes for the project are that the electricity will cost about 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and that it will produce about 500,000 megawatt-hours per year. According to CEO Kevin Smith, “the technology has been well proven. This is project No. 1, so it’s like a hand-crafted large-scale project. The key for future projects is to make improvements on the pricing.”
With the millions of bulbs used to light up the city that never sleeps, Vegas sure could benefit from a decent amount of clean electricity like this, couldn’t it?