Editor’s Note: We’ve just posted an interview we did in early April 2012 with SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith about his company’s technology. You can read that here.
The gray cylinder rising 540 feet skyward in the Nevada desert looks like a giant smokestack. But it’s actually something quite different—a new kind of tower for a new kind of power plant. The literal centerpiece of the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant near Tonopah, Nev., the tower was completed this month after workers toiled around the clock since early November, developer SolarReserve said.
Eventually—by the end of 2013, if all goes according to plan—the tower will receive the reflected, concentrated solar heat from thousands of giant heliostats. Some of that heat will then be stored in molten salts and used to generate power after the sun goes down or in cloudy conditions.
“Completion of the solar power tower is a significant milestone not only for SolarReserve and our plant, but also for the solar energy industry as a whole,” Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, said in a statement. “Our U.S.-developed technology has the ability to store energy for 10-15 hours and solves the issue of intermittent power generation to the grid, the number one limitation to other solar and wind renewable energy technologies. We can deliver electricity ‘on demand’ the same way a coal, natural gas or nuclear fueled plant does – but without emitting any harmful pollution or hazardous materials.”
There are other so-called power-tower plants around the world, but none in the United States. And when Crescent Dunes is completed, it will be the largest of its type in the world, SolarReserve said.
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