Solar energy project gets conditional loan guarantee

SolarReserve received a conditional commitment for a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada.

Construction is expected to start on the plant in the summer of 2011 and operations are scheduled to start in late 2013. Output from the plant will be sold to NV Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement approved by Nevada regulators in 2010.

SolarReserve's solar power tower technology generates power by focusing the sun's thermal energy using thousands of sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats onto a central receiver. A salt compound, heated to liquid, circulates through the central receiver tocollect and store that energy. The heated salt then flows to an insulated storage tank, where it is stored for use during times when direct sunlight is unavailable. When electricity is needed, the hot salt is sent to a heat exchanger to produce steam, which drives a conventional steam turbine electrical generator.

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