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EPRI, Tri-State and NV Energy To Demonstrate Solar Thermal Hybrid Power Plants

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) plans to built two technology demonstration projects that will show utilities how they could augment fossil-fueled power plants with solar energy in a way that could result in reduced emissions and fuel costs. Both projects involve adding steam generated by a solar thermal field to a conventional fossil fuel-powered steam cycle to help generate electricity, creating a solar "hybrid" plant.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., will host one demonstration at its 245-megawatt (MW) coal-fired Escalante Generating Station in Prewitt, New Mexico.

NV Energy will host the other at its 1,102-MW natural gas-powered Chuck Lenzie Generating Station near Las Vegas.
 
Solar thermal hybrid applications have the potential to be an important, low-cost option for adding solar power to the generation fleet, allowing utilities to meet renewable energy regulatory targets, reduce plant emissions, and lower fuel costs. The hybrid system will inject solar-generated steam into the steam cycle of the fossil plants, resulting in fewer emissions and a lower reliance on fossil fuels. This approach solves the intermittency challenge of integrating solar power onto the grid without compromising the reliability of supply.
 
“These projects will seek to demonstrate a near-term and cost-effective way to use solar energy at commercial scale,” said Carolyn Shockley, vice president of Generation at EPRI. “This is a key step along the road toward taking full advantage of technologies to lower the industry’s carbon footprint.”
 
The EPRI demonstrations, to be conducted in conjunction with construction of new solar thermal facilities, will provide support throughout all phases of the projects. The collaborative will help select designs that can achieve the desired cost and performance targets while maintaining the availability and reliability of the existing plant; develop plans for the hybrid plant performance evaluation and testing; and then carry out performance monitoring and evaluation, component testing, economic assessment, and reporting of operating parameters during plant commissioning.

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