New Concentrated Solar Plant Will Power 1 Million Homes

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concentrated solar plant
Piotr Zajda | Shutterstock.com

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar-based energy will provide power to 100 million households worldwide by 2020. A new development, SolarReserve’s concentrated solar plantSandstone, will be the largest utility-scale solar installation of its kind. 

Large-scale solar power wasn’t really on anybody’s grid twenty years ago.

Now, however, the off-grid solar market is now worth $700 million USD, and is expected to swell to $3.1 billion USD at the end of this decade.

Growth has been picking up over the last few years for a number of reasons, but is predominately driven by the fact that solar panels have become comparatively more efficient and more affordable.

The result is two-fold: renewable energy costs are dropping and becoming increasingly competitive with traditional grid providers while demand for cheaper, cleaner power is on the rise.

In 2016, California shattered then state solar record by producing 8,030 megawatts of solar electricity, or enough to power six million homes. The state hopes to be 33 percent renewable energy powered before 2020.

California is known as the Golden State for black gold just as much as it is for the precious metal. Oil industries in the state have long formed a crucial part of California’s economy, but the state is also known for fostering the development of progressive, innovative and renewable technologies.

SolarReserve, for example, is leading the transition from traditional sources of energy to next-gen alternatives with large-scale, interstate endeavors. The company has announced plans to build their concentrated solar plant (CSP) project, Sandstone, in Nevada.

“At over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the molten salt boils water which drives a steam turbine that can power generators 24 hours a day.”

Generating Jobs

SolarReserve’s Sandstone CSP will generate between an estimated 1,500 and 2,000 megawatts of power. This is enough to power a million homes, or roughly as much power output as the Hoover Dam or the average nuclear power plant.

More importantly, the fact that these systems still produce energy at night gives them an advantage over photovoltaic tiles.

Another advantage is the project would be a big jobs creator. While SolarReserve is still in the process of choosing a construction site, the company projects that the facilities will be up and running in two to three years and will have brought over 3,000 jobs to the area.

How Will Sandstone Work?

SolarReserve says Sandstone will use 100,000 mirrored heliostats. These giant mirrors will not only reflect but concentrate the sun’s rays onto ten towers containing a molten salt storage system. At over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the molten salt boils water which drives a steam turbine that can power generators 24 hours a day.

Because Sandstone will be located in Nevada, SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the company will have to build new transmission infrastructure to export the power to California.

Nevada is shaping up to be the battleground for the so-called “Solar Wars“. More than industry competition, however, Nevada’s sunny disposition offers a case study for how will generate and allocate alternative sources of energy domestically and international. What kind of interstate and international agreements might we see on developing, maintaining and managing next-gen energy infrastructure?

What kind of interstate and international agreements might we expect to see regarding the development, maintenance and management of next-gen energy infrastructure?

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