DOE Offers Loan Guarantee for Solar Generation Project in Nevada

May 25, 2011

DOE announced on May 19 its offer of a conditional commitment for a $737 million loan guarantee to support a 110-megawatt concentrating solar power (CSP) tower facility in Nevada. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, sponsored by SolarReserve, LLC, will be the first of its kind in the United States and the tallest molten salt tower in the world. It is located on 2,250 acres leased from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management. The company estimates the project will create 600 construction jobs and 45 operations jobs.

The project includes a 640-foot tall solar power structure and a molten salt-based collection and storage system. The tower stands in the center of 17,500 tracking mirrors (called heliostats) that focus concentrated sunlight on a receiver which sits on top of the tower. Within the receiver, the sunlight heats molten salt which then flows into a thermal storage tank where it is stored, and eventually pumped to a steam generator. The molten salt storage system allows the sun's thermal energy to be stored for up to ten hours, permitting steady, uninterrupted power during peak electricity demand, despite cloud cover, and even at night. The molten salt technology was demonstrated at the Solar Two facility in conjunction DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Crescent Dunes facility is expected to avoid nearly 290,000 tons of carbon pollution annually. The project is also expected to produce approximately 500,000 megawatt hours annually, enough to power over 43,000 homes. Power from the project will be sold to Nevada Power Company, a utility subsidiary of NV Energy, Inc., and it will help NV Energy meet its renewable portfolio standard goals for Nevada as well as its evening load requirements. See the DOE press release and the DOE Loan Programs Office website.