Molten salt storage facilities have literally flooded the news lately, as they’re present in most of the countries harvesting solar power in a serious manner. However, SolarReserve, a NV-based company, plans to power Las Vegas’s city lights with such a system – a big challenge, no matter how you think of it.
The 540-foot high tower of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project near Tonopah, Nevada is expected to generate 110 megawatts by the end of next year. It will be able to provide 10 hours of storage, which at this moment would be the world’s highest.
10,000 billboard-sized mirrors will track the sun starting this summer and will heat up molten salts flowing through the 100-foot receiver installed at the top of the tower. The salts will have already been pre-heated to 500 degrees and will go up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They’ll then go back into the storage tank and, when electricity will be needed by the grid, water will be heated and will drive a classic steam turbine.
The Crescent Dunes project will produce 500,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year and the price per kilowatt-hour will be around 13.5 cents, which is cheaper than coal or nuclear, but doesn’t yet reach the low price of natural gas. With $1 billion in private funding and DOE loans, SolarReserve is sure to make itself a name in the solar industry.
I have always wondered how much electricity is consumed in Las Vegas over a month and how much producing that energy pollutes the environment (if coming from coal). From 2013, at least, there will be less of that black matter burnt for Las Vegas to shine.