World's Tallest Solar Tower, With Energy Storage, Under Construction in Nevada

The biggest solar tower project in the world is under construction near Tonopah, Nevada.

SolarReserve announced the 540-foot solar tower has been finished and the full project will come online in 2013.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is a massive 110 MW concentrating solar tower plant – the first in the US – and will use molten salt to store energy produced in the tower.

When it becomes operational, it’s expected to produce about 500,000 megawatt hours a year, supplying electricity for 75,000 homes. 

"Our U.S.-developed technology has the ability to store energy for 10-15 hours and solves the issue of intermittent power generation to the grid, the number one limitation to other solar and wind technologies.  We can deliver electricity ‘on demand’ the same way a coal, natural gas or nuclear fueled plant does – but
without emitting any harmful pollution or hazardous materials – providing a genuine alternative to conventional power generation," says Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve.

The flagship project, which is being built on public land, is jointly owned by SolarReserve, ACS Cobra, a worldwide leader in the engineering and construction of power plants and solar thermal facilities, and Santander, a global financial services and banking leader. ACS Cobra’s Nevada-based affiliate, Cobra Thermosolar Plants Inc., is the general contractor for the project and is using Nevada and regional subcontractors to perform the work.

The project will create an estimated 4,300 direct and indirect  jobs at companies throughout the U.S. that provide engineering, equipment supply and manufacturing, transportation and other
value-added services. To date, orders for the project have been placed for equipment and services in more than 20 states. 

Once operational, the project will expend more than $10 million per year in salaries and operating costs, and is forecasted to generate $47 million in tax revenues through the first 10 years of operation.

Based in Santa Monica, CA., SolarReserve develops large-scale solar plants around the world. It holds the exclusive worldwide license to the molten salt, solar tower technology developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of United
Technologies Corporation.

Since its formation in late 2007, SolarReserve has assembled a
concentrated solar development portfolio of over 25 projects, amounting to 3,000 megawatts (MW) in the US and Europe, and is in the early stages in most other world markets.

The company is also developing 1,100 MW of solar PV projects across the Western US.

The molten salt, concentrating solar tower technology was successfully demonstrated in California under a DOE-sponsored 10 MW pilot project in the late 1990s.

The Cresent Dunes project is supported by a $737 million loan guarantee from the US DOE – one of the last before the program expired last September.

Although the GOP continues to raze the program for its failed loans to several companies, most of the funds went to large-scale projects like Crescent Dunes.

The project is being financed through private equity investment from SolarReserve, ACS Cobra and Santander.

In Spain, a similar project has been operating since May, although it’s much smaller at 19.9 MW. The Gemasol solar plant is the first in the world to provide uninterrupted baseload power – supplying electricity for 15 hours without the sun.  

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