California-based BrightSource Energy Inc. said that Nur Energie, a UK-based independent power producer, has selected its LPT 550 energy system for a 38 MW solar thermal power plant on the Greek island of Crete.

The plant will be developed by NUR-MOH SA, a joint venture between Nur Energie and Motor Oil Hellas. Greece’s energy regulators approved the plant in December 2010.

The LPT 550 solar system creates high-temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses heliostats to re­flect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional tur­bine which generates electricity. The LPT 550 uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 95 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling in competing technologies, BrightSource said in a statement.

Watch a video to see how this type of technology works. Look for Power Engineering tech tours in our online video gallery.

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