Washington D.C., September 29, 2011 — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the Department of Energy finalized a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC to develop the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.
Located 14 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada on land leased from the Bureau of Land Management, the company anticipates the facility will fund 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs.
The project includes 17,500 heliostats (mirror assemblies) that collect and focus the sun's thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through an about 640-foot tall solar power tower. The high temperature molten salt circulates from the tower to a storage tank, where it is then used to produce steam and generate electricity.
Excess thermal energy is stored in the molten salt and can be called upon at any time to create additional steady, clean, renewable power for up to ten hours, even in the evening hours and when direct sunlight isn't available.
This increases grid stability and reduces the need for carbon pollution emitting generators, which currently supplement intermittent renewable generation technologies during periods of no or low solar resource.
The molten salt technology was demonstrated at the Solar Two facility in conjunction with the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Power from the project will be sold to Nevada Power Co., a utility subsidiary of NV Energy, Inc.