Nevada is the Number 1 state in the US in solar watts per capita and solar as a percentage of retail sales and NV Energy is one company that is working to further renewable energy, especially solar power, in the state. This new agreement with SolarReserve to acquire electricity generated by the 100-MW Crescent Dunes CSP plant, which is expected to break ground towards the end of next year, will supply approximately 480,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually.
The plant, which is being developed and is owned by SolarReserve's subsidiary, Tonopah Solar Energy, will use CSP technology, with a central receiver tower and energy storage system. The technology generates power from sunlight by focusing energy from a field of sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats onto a central receiver. Liquid salt (a common ingredient in fertilizer) is circulated through tubes in the receiver, collecting the energy gathered from the sun. The heated salt is then routed to an insulated storage tank where it can be stored with minimal energy losses. When electricity is to be generated, the hot salt is routed to heat exchangers creating steam which is used to generate electricity in a conventional steam turbine cycle. After exiting the steam generation system, the salt is sent to the cold salt thermal storage tank and the cycle is repeated.
According to Tonopah Solar Energy, the project will create as many as 450 construction jobs for Nevada during the two-year construction period. It will employ 45 permanent operations staff and will have an annual operating budget of more than $5.0 million, with the majority of that budget spent in the region. In addition, up to 4,000 indirect jobs would be created through the use of locally based suppliers and service providers. The project will generate sales and property tax revenue estimated at more than $40 million over the project operating period.
“The Tonopah project is a significant step in the advancement of clean and reliable solar power for the United States and Nevada and will be a catalyst for new technology manufacturing in the region,” said Kevin Smith, SolarReserve’s CEO. “We are extremely pleased to be working with NV Energy and look forward to the opportunity to work together on additional projects in the future.”
This new power purchase agreement is part of NV Energy’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan filed with – and approved by – the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, to spend spending approximately $2 billion to purchase and invest in new renewable energy by 2015. It is not however NV Energy’s first agreement to purchase CSP-generated electricity. The company already has a long-term contract to buy the power generated by the Nevada Solar One CSP plant, located south of Las Vegas near Boulder City, Nevada. This 64-MW power plant, developed by Acciona Solar Power, is the largest solar plant to be developed anywhere in the world in the past 15 years.
Meanwhile, NV Energy is also supplied electricity from several other solar facilities including a 3.066-MW plant located in Las Vegas and owned and operated by the Powerlight Corporation; the Clark PV Station (owned by NV Energy) consisting of three dual-axis high concentrating photovoltaic tracking arrays that will produce 180,000 kWh of power; and the Nellis Air Force Base 14-MW PV System in Nevada, the largest solar PV installation in North America. This latter installation is a joint project of NV Energy, the US Air Force, MMA Renewable Ventures and SunPower Corporation and generates more than 30 million kWh of clean electricity annually, supplying 25% of the total power used at the base.
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