As Ivanpah, the world’s biggest solar tower power plant comes on line, commissioning has begun on Crescent Dunes, the world’s biggest solar tower power plant that incorporates storage.
The 110MW Crescent Dunes project near Tonopah. Nevada, is 5 times bigger that other pilot and demonstration projects that have tested molten salt technology, and the first at what is regarded as “utility scale.”
The plant has been built by California-based Solar Reserve, which recently opened an office in Western Australia, and the storage capability means that it will have twice the output per MW of other solar technologies.
It also means that it can deliver electricity when needed. It has a contract to deliver electricity to Las Vegas between the hours of noon and midnight. As this graph shows, it can deliver its output in blocks, if needed, rather than the variable curves featured of solar technologies without storage.
The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas.
Solar Reserve says the commissioning is the initial stage of bringing the project into operations and includes system-by-system verification and startup, as well as equipment calibration and testing.
This includes “energization” of the utility interconnection system and other electrical systems, and testing and calibration of the heliostat field, which comprises more than 10,000 “billboard-sized” mirrors that track the sun and total more than 1 million square meters of glass.
Commissioning also includes systems unique to Crescent Dunes such as a Heliostat Field Control System that will control and concentrate the sun’s energy and also the Molten Salt System that will harness, store and transform the sun’s energy into superheated steam, making this the most advanced solar power plant in the world.
The facility also includes a dry cooled condenser in a hybrid configuration to minimize water use to levels well below that of conventional power plants.
“Start of commissioning of the Crescent Dunes solar power plant marks a critical milestone for the project as well as the solar industry,” CEO Kevin Smith said in a statement. “We are now able to build utility-scale power plants, fueled only by the sun, which operate on-demand, day and night, just like traditional fossil fuel or nuclear power plants.
SolarReserve’s industry-leading solar thermal energy storage technology solves the intermittency issue that limits the use of other renewable energy projects and thus enables firm, reliable delivery of electricity whether or not the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.”
Abengoa is also looking to build a 110MW solar tower plant with 17 hours of storage in Chile.