EPRI to Lead Multi-Party Concentrating Solar Initiative

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced a new project to study the feasibility of concentrating solar power (CSP) in New Mexico.

Initiated by New Mexico utility PNM and with subsequent interest from other regional utilities, the project will be directed and managed by EPRI. PNM has expressed interest in building a CSP plant in New Mexico by 2010.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Xcel Energy, have also agreed to participate in the project. El Paso Electric has expressed interest in participating in the first phase of the project.

The first phase of the project includes two components; each aimed at providing expertise and technical analysis to help utilities and others make informed decisions about CSP in the future.

The first component is the formation of a team of CSP experts from electric utilities, engineering firms and national laboratories to provide technical expertise, review and guidance as the project progresses. Team members will include representatives from Black and Veatch, Nexant, New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Western Resource Advocates and the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy.

The second component of the first phase is a comprehensive feasibility assessment to examine the site, technological, performance economic, environmental and regulatory issues surrounding the development of a 50-500 megawatt (MW) CSP plant.

The second phase of the project is system engineering design and permitting; the third phase is plant construction. The feasibility study is expected to be finished by the end of 2007, at which time participants will decide whether findings warrant moving to the system design and permitting phase.

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