Green Light for New Concentrating Solar Power Project

Solargenix Energy is traditionally known for its residential solar thermal hot water systems. Soon, however, the company will be known for something much bigger after recently getting the green light to proceed on the first large-scale solar power plant in the US in well over a decade.

Approvals were handed down from Nevada’s Public Utility Commission regarding amendments to commercial Power Purchase Agreements with Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company. This approval by the PUCN will allow Solargenix to complete the development of Nevada Solar One, a 64 MW Solar Thermal Electric Generating Plant located in Boulder City, Nevada. Nevada Solar One will be among the largest solar electric power plants to be built globally in the past 14 years and it will be the third largest solar power plant in the world. This project will make Nevada one of the largest generators of solar energy in the US. The project will deploy parabolic solar trough technology — essentially huge long tracks of mirrored half-tubes that track, receive and concentrate the sun’s energy on series of tubes filled with a heat-transfer fluid. The heat transfer fluid passes through the receiver tubing and is heated to temperatures required to generate steam and drive a conventional Rankine cycle steam power plant to generate electricity that is then fed into the electrical grid system. “Many people are not familiar with concentrating solar thermal technology and its proven track record and capability to play a significant role in addressing many of the most important energy issues that confront America and the rest of the world,” said Solargenix CEO John Myles. According to published information from the US Department of Energy through the US National Laboratories (which is available on the Solargenix website) the parabolic trough technology used in this plant represents one of the major renewable energy success stories of the past two decades and has a near-term potential to compete directly with conventional fossil fuel powered technologies. A series of similar plants built in California’s Mojave Desert back in the early ’80s are still functioning at or above expected capacity today. The recently passed federal energy policy package played a part in improving the economics of this project. The bill included a 10 percent investment tax credit. This credit is particularly helpful for promoting new developments of these CSP projects. The US Department of Energy has issued a report that identifies suitable land and solar resources in Nevada that could produce over 600,000 MW of power generation using concentrating solar technologies. Currently, Nevada’s electricity consumption is less than 3 percent of this resource capacity. This same report claims that the economic benefits far exceed the cost to develop this clean renewable energy source. “The western states represent the quintessential place for practical utilization of large-scale solar power generation that the 65 MW Solargenix facility will profide,” said Scott Sklar, President, The Stella Group, Ltd., a clean energy facilitation firm. The Boulder City plant located in the El Dorado Valley is scheduled to begin production of electricity in early 2007. Myles said that critical major equipment and components have been ordered, land agreements are completed with Boulder City and interim financing is in place.
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