Hadera Desalination Plant, Israel

Country Profile – Israeli Desalination Plant Strategy

Israel is a leader in designing, building and operating desalination power plants. The climate in Israel is very dry with a low amount of rainfall, which means access to potable water is very limited. Due to its geographical location, Israel has an abundance of salt water that it can covert using desalination into drinkable water. In addition the country also has access to cheap supplies of coal, oil and gas, which makes the desalination process cost effective.

In 1999, the Israeli Government initiated a long term, large-scale desalination program based on reverse osmosis technology. The reason for this decision was due to large periods of droughts during the mid 1990s. Having gone through a requirements phase, it subsequently revisited targets and decided to push for fresh water capacity of 750 million mby 2020.

Summary of Key Facts – Hadera Desalination Plant

As of 2012, desalination contributes 349 million m3 of potable water to Israel, with the Hadera plant currently providing the largest amount (127 million m3), which is currently about 20% of the total requirement. This plant which was completed in December 2009, is to date the largest salt-water reverse osmosis (RO) plant in the world. However another RO plant is currently being built at Sorek, Israel and when complete (end of 2013), will overtake Hadera as the biggest in the world.

The Hadera plant is about 50km from the capital Tel Aviv and situated along the Mediterranean coast. It has the ability to produce about half a million cubic metres of potable water per day. The plant takes in seawater that is firstly pre-treated, and is then pushed through fine pored membranes under high pressure. In post-treatment water is adjusted for pH levels to make sure it is suitable for drinking.

The plant supplies water at a cost of $0.57 per cubic metre. It is operated by IDE Technologies and Shikun & Binui, for a period of 25years.

Hadera Desalination Plant and the Environment

The Hadera plant uses significant amount of electricity, with most of this energy being supplied from the nearby Orot Rabin coal fire powered station. From this point of view, the desalination plant doesn’t get a high score for environmental sustainability. However the plant uses state of the art technology and energy recovery systems, which mitigate the fossil fuel supplied electrical energy.

Hadera desalination plant uses the latest ERI PX Pressure Exchanger devices, which operate at high efficiency and also cost less electricity to run. For a similar sized RO desalination plant these PX devices reduce energy cost the exchanger used by approximately 60% (700MW) and saves an equivalent 2.3m tonnes of CO2 per year.

The desalination plant can be further improved by making sure electrical energy is sourced from renewable technologies. A Solar PV farm would complement a desalination plant very well, as shown by similar projects being operated in Saudi Arabia.

    Tilbury Biomass Power Plant

Summary of Key Facts – Tilbury Biomass Power Plant

Tilbury Power Station is located on the River Thames, in Tilbury, Essex. Completed in 1969, the plant was originally built to burn coal, producing a combined capacity of 1428MW of electricity from four generating units, supplying electricity to 1.4m people in the surrounding area (since it’s construction, one of the four generating units was decommissioned bringing the capacity down to 1062MW).

In September 2010, following successful tests, RWE, the owners of the Tilbury power plant, opted to convert the plant to only burn biomass, and on 4th March 2011, Tilbury Power Station produced it’s last kWh of electricity from coal.

After this, Tilbury Power Station began to burn 100% biomass fuel, using sustainably sourced renewable wood pellets. In theory, this means that the plant is now carbon neutral, as the carbon dioxide released during the burning of the fuel is offset by the original tree source absorbing the gas during their growth.

It is expected that the Tilbury Biomass Power Station will produce almost 10% of the UK’s renewable energy output during 2012, but perhaps more importantly the greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by approximately 70% when compared to it running on coal. This has come at a slight cost though, as there has been a decrease in capacity to 750MW, due to the lower energy density of biomass compared to coal.

Sustainable Legacy of the Tilbury Biomass Power Plant

The decision to move to biomass was viable as a result of RWE owning the largest pelleting plant in the world. The Waycross Pelleting Plant in Georgia has a capacity to produce 750,000 metric tonnes of pellets annually, and supplies biomass plants across Europe. These pellets are delivered via Savannah Port, where they are shipped in dry bulk vessels to Tilbury.

Under the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which states that power stations have to opt in to strict emission reduction programmes or reduce their operating lifespan, 9 UK coal power plants are set to close at by 2015. Tilbury is one of the plants that is due for closure as a result of this scheme, however, due to its conversion from coal to biomass, it will certainly run until at least 2015, and despite being now more than 50 years old, the transformation could mean that the plant will continue to produce electricity well past this date.

Tilbury Biomass Power Plant Fire and the Future

Unfortunately, in February 2012, there was a fire at the power station when a stockpile of the biomass pellets accidently caught fire, highlighting the risks of storing large amounts of flammable feedstock on site. This fire was substantial, and only in June 2012 did the plant actually come back online and starts producing electricity again.

Despite this, there are many biomass plants being planned for the UK, with Centrica the latest company to submit plans to build an 80MW plant in Barrow, supplying enough electricity to meet the demands of 125,000 homes in the local area. The importance of new power plants to replace both fossil fuel and any other aging plants is vital, and if the fuel source for biomass can be sourced sustainably, plants like Tilbury clearly make sense for a greener future.

    Whitelee Onshore Wind Farm, Scotland

Whitelee Wind Farm Key Facts

Whitelee Wind Farm is situated on Eaglesham Moor, near Glasgow, Scotland. ScottishPower Renewables first identified the site in 1999, although it took another seven years for work to actually commence on the wind farm, with the first wind turbine erected on 14th November 2007. It is now the largest onshore wind farm in the UK (and in Europe) with 140 turbines producing a combined 322MW of energy, which is enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.

Whitelee Wind Farm Operations

Following the successful rollout of this 1st phase of development, ScottishPower Renewables got planning permission from the Scottish Government to extend the wind farm by building another 75 turbines; which are due to be completed later in 2012. These extra turbines are set to produce an additional 217 MW of electricity taking the total installed capacity to a potential 539 MW; enough to power an estimated 304,000 homes.

The 140 turbines currently in operation are produced by Siemens and have a rotor diameter of 101m, which are designed to spin and therefore create electricity when wind speed is in excess of 4m/s, however maximum electrical output will be when the wind speed is in excess of 13m/s. If the wind goes above 25m/s, the turbines will cease operation for safety reasons.

In April 2012, ScottishPower Renewables decided to seek planning permission for a further small extension of five additional turbines; permission for this is still yet to be decided.

Whitelee Wind Farm Funding

The Whitelee Windfarm is being developed and operated by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), which is part of Iberdrola Renewables, the largest renewable energy company in the world.

    Walney Offshore Wind Farm, England

Where Is The Walney Offshore Wind Farm?

In early 2012, The Walney Offshore Wind Farm was completed approximately 15km off Walney Island, Cumbria in the Irish Sea. The 102 turbines have a total generating capacity of 367.2MW, which should provide 320,000 houses with 100% clean electricity, when transported onshore from these offshore Wind Farms.

Walney Wind Farm Operating Capabilities

The instillation of the Walney Wind Farm was done in two phases. The first phase or Walney 1 was started in Spring 2010 consisting of 51 Siemens 3.6MW turbines, which took a year to install. Phase 2 or Walney 2 also consisted of 51 turbines, but the instillation time was halved; only taking 6 months to complete. Walney 1 & 2 combined area coverage is situated over 73km2

Both Walney 1 and Walney 2 have independent substations located out at sea which increase the voltage of the turbines from 33kV to 132kV so that it can be fed into the grid, via 43km export cables.

The turbines will spin and therefore create electricity when wind speed is in excess of 4m/s, however maximum electrical output will be when the wind speed is in excess of 13m/s. If the wind goes above 25m/s, the turbines will cease operation for safety reasons.

The installation of the wind farm has so far created 60 jobs, helping to boost the local job market and develop the expertise in the engineering sector.

Walney Wind Farm Funding Model

The Walney Wind Farm was funded as a joint venture by Dong Energy (50.1%), SSE (25.1%) and a consortium of PGGM and Triodos Investment Management (24.8%)

    Wave Hub, Cornwall

What is Wave Hub?

Wave Hub is a grid-connected offshore facility for the large scale testing of wave energy technologies. It is located in south-west England, 16km off the north shore of Cornwall (see Figure 1). The Wave Hub concept was conceived in 2003 by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), the necessary consents for the project were obtained in 2007 and Wave Hub was set up in 2010.

Funding for Wave Hub has come from the SWRDA (now disbanded and under central government control), the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and the UK government.

Wave Hub – How It Works

The Wave Hub project holds a 25-year lease of 8km2 of seabed that is split into four separate 1km x 2km berths which the project will underlease to wave energy device developers for an agreed term. The length of tenure for developers is not fixed, Wave Hub expects developers to test the reliability of their machines over a number of years and then build larger, commercial scale projects in the region and elsewhere.

The Wave Hub unit itself is connected to the shore via twin 300mm2 33kV power triads and fibre optic cables contained within an armoured cable running under the seabed (See Figure 2). This cable is terminated within the hub unit that lies on the seabed onto two bus bars, and each bus bar services two berthing areas. Each bus bar has two 300m ‘tails’ composed of a three core 120mm2 33 kV cable that operates at 11kV. There is therefore one ‘tail’ for each berth. The lead device from each wave energy array will connect to the hub via an 11kV dry-mate connector situated at the end of each Wave Hub tail and provide both electrical and fibre optic connection, allowing remote control and monitoring of the wave energy devices as well as electrical transmission.

The cable running from the Wave Hub to the shore connects to a new electricity substation at nearby Hayle that consists of an 11kV/33kV transformer with associated switchgear and power factor correction equipment to ensure within specification delivery to the grid. Initial operation of the Wave Hub system will be at 11kV with capability for 16-20MW of power. Once subsea components that allow 33kV operation are developed by the industry, Wave Hub will be have capacity for up to 50MW devices.

The seabed in the region of Wave Hub’s lease is generally 50m to 60m below sea level, and with the south west peninsula exposed to an excellent wave resource in the form of the prevailing westerly Atlantic swell, the typical range in the Wave Hub location is 15-25 kW/m (kilowatts per metre of wave face). Furthermore the region’s strong 400kV grid that runs close to both the north and south coast of the peninsular, and numerous shallow and deep water ports reduces potentially high costs of necessary infrastructure.

Building Expertise and Research Around the Wave Hub

The nearby Universities of Plymouth and Exeter have joined forces to create the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy, and with the region’s history of advanced maritime and engineering, Wave Hub is in the vicinity of a skilled workforce complemented by world-class research and facilities that enable the project to fulfil its target of bridging the current gap in the industry between R &D, initial prototypes and full commercialisation.

In addition, RegenSW is the south west peninsula’s very own renewable energy agency that has developed the Offshore Supply Chain aimed at supporting a network of companies active in the offshore energy sector numbering in the hundreds.

Wave Hub Environmental Impact

In terms of the environmental impacts, Wave Hub will oversee a co-ordinated and ongoing programme of environmental monitoring with its customers, and extensive baseline data has been recorded to facilitate accurate determination of any environmental impacts of different devices.

Wave Hub and Developing Wave Energy in the UK

The UK has the largest wave energy resource in Europe, and the feasible resource is approximately 50TWh/year, with a practical potential for up to 1,000MW of installed capacity by 2020 as suggested by several reviews. In the South West specifically, a report predicted the installed capacity could be from 83-285 MW by 2020, with the top estimate being equivalent to £57 million in revenue. The Wave Hub project plays an important role if these figures are to be realised.

Currently Wave Hub have received commitments for two of the berths, one of which is from Ocean Energy Ltd., who have been developing and testing an absorbing air chamber platform for the last 10 years, and Wave Hub expect them to take up residence at the beginning of 2013. Wave Hub have also been receiving plenty of interest and believe there is a strong chance of the other two berths being filled soon.

    Agucadoura Wave Farm, Portugal

Agucadoura Wave Farm – Key Facts

In September 2008, following 10 years of design, refinement and testing, 3 Pelamis wave-following attenuation devices were installed 5km off the coast of Aguçadoura, Portugal, creating the world’s first wave energy farm.

Each 120m long Pelamis machine lays semi submerged on the surface of water that has a depth greater than 50m, and is composed of four long tube sections joined together by three power conversion units. The motion of each section flexing relative to one another results in high pressure oil passing through hydraulic motors driving electrical generators which are linked to the grid through cables along the seabed. At a cost of approximately $11.5million, the three Pelamis machines had an installed peak capacity of 2.25 MW, which is enough to power approximately 1,600 homes per year.

Efforts were taken to minimize the impact on local marine flora and fauna through, for example, a mooring system of embedment anchors, chains and ropes rather than more permanent gravity based systems.

Agucadoura Wave Farm Technical Issues

However in November 2008, technical issues resulted in the machines being brought to shore, and although these technical issues were resolved, the financial crisis sunk the Portuguese electricity utility Enersis’ parent company Babcock & Brown, resulting in the project ending much earlier than planned, and before any more of the anticipated 28 Pelamis machines had been built.

Following this disappointment, Pelamis shifted their focus onto a second-generation power generator, the P2. The P2 is longer and heavier allowing greater energy capture at lower cost per MW. The P2 also has a number of design improvements, increasing the efficiency and reliability.

Wave Farm Projects in the UK

There are currently two P2s being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the Orkneys, one being owned by E.ON, and the other by ScottishPower Renewables. ScottishPower Renewables have agreed a lease for a 50MW wave farm in Orkney with The Crown Estate that will be made up of 66 Pelamis machines, and the lessons and experience currently being accumulated at EMEC will play a vital role in the success of this plan.

Agucadoura Wave Farm – Next Steps

The Agucadoura Wave Farm, made up of a joint venture between Pelamis and now EDP and Efacec, hopes to receive a new lease of life in the form of a 20MW installed capacity follow-up project with 26 new Pelamis machines. As above, this project is dependent on the outcomes of the P2 testing in the Orkneys.

Portugal are especially hopeful that this follow-up project will be successful as wave power is going to be vital in their ambitious plans for 60% of the country’s energy to be from renewable sources by 2020. Portugal has an extensive coastline, most of which is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic and despite the initial failing of the Aguçadoura Wave Farm, Portuguese energy companies continue to invest in high-tech ocean solutions.

    Sound of Islay Tidal Project, Scotland

Sound of Islay Tidal Project Background

In March 2011, the Scottish Government gave consent for a test tidal turbine to be installed in the Sound of Islay by Scottish Power Renewables, which is a tidal stretch of water between the Isle of Islay and the Isle of Jura.

The HS1000 tidal turbine looks very similar to traditional onshore wind turbines that are now commonplace across the UK. This turbine was designed by Hammerfest Strom AS, who have been successfully running a smaller 300kw turbine in Norway for the last 6 years. The HS1000 is significantly bigger with a capacity of 1MW, which should generate approximately 3GWh of electricity per year, enough to power about 600 houses.

These turbines will stand approximately 33m tall from the seabed to the tip of the turbine blade, which will still leave clearance of about 17m to the surface of the water, so there should be no impact of boats travelling up and down the Sound of Islay.

In December 2011, Hammerfest engineers installed the first of the HS1000 tidal turbines, which has successfully been running ever since. The plan is now to install an additional nine turbines bringing the total capacity up to the 10MW, with the array being completed in 2013.

Comparison to Existing Tidal Energy Projects

Unlike the Rance Tidal Barrage which takes advantage of the potential energy at high and low tide, these new types of turbines take advantage of the kinetic energy of the moving tidal water. This difference is key, as the HS1000 turbine arrays can be built up in a modular fashion, adding additional turbines, one at a time to increase the capacity of the entire turbine array. There are also none of the associated environmental impacts with damming an estuary, which means the installations are cheaper and capacity can be added as funds become available.

The benefit of positioning the turbines in the water comes down to the density of water; it is approximately 800 times more dense than air, so for the same rotor swept area, water moving at 2.5m/s has the same amount of force as wind blowing at 350km/h!

Unlike wind turbines that rotate to face the wind, these tidal turbines will not rotate, instead the individual blades will turn to face the flow. This is because in tidal waters, the direction of flow is only bidirectional, so there is no need for the full rotational functionality.

Electrical Output of the Sound of Islay Tidal Project

The electricity produced by the turbines when all 10 come online in 2013, will be something close to 30GWh, which will be enough to power approximately 6000 houses. The combined energy consumption of both the Isle of Islay & Isle of Jura is also approximately 30GWh, however as tidal energy is not always producing power (in between tides), the islands will still have to import electricity at these times (lack of energy storage). However, during the full tidal flow the electricity produced will comfortably be able to cover the requirements of both islands and the excess will be exported.

Environmental Impact Of The Sound Of Islay Tidal Project

Prior to planning permission being granted for the Sound of Islay Tidal Project, an environmental impact assessment was carried out to assess the potential impact of sea-life in the area. It was concluded there would be very little impact on the local ecosystem as the blades spin relatively slowly (10 times per minute), and in their smaller test turbine project (300kw turbine), no impact was seen.

    Rance Tidal Power Station, France

Background to the Rance Tidal Power Station

After a construction phase lasting five years, the Rance Tidal Power Station was opened on the 26th November 1966. This was the first power station to take advantage of tidal water flow to produce electricity (tidal energy). In order to be able to construct the structure across the estuary, two dams had to be built to block the Rance river during the first two years of the construction phase to ensure that the estuary was completely drained.

The reason that the Rance River estuary was chosen was due to its large tidal range; it actually has highest tidal range in France. It has an average tidal range of 8m between low and high tide, while the spring and neap range can be as big as 13.5m.

Rance Tidal Power Station and the Tidal Flow

When the tide is coming in, the water on the sea side of the barrage is higher than the estuary side; therefore water will flow from the sea side through the turbine into the estuary. When the tide is going out, the exact opposite occurs. As such, the turbines that were installed in the Rance Power Station have the capability to produce power in either direction.

The Rance Barrage is 750m long and 13m high, while the actual power generating portion of it is 330m long. This section houses 24 Bulb electricity turbines each rated at 10MW so the maximum capacity of the power station is 240MW. In practice the amount of power it actually produces is about 96MW, supplying approximately 600GWh per year to the grid, which would power approximately 130,000 houses a year

One of the major drawbacks about tidal energy is that it is not a constant source of electricity. There are two tides a day, when the tidal range is at is maximum, and the generating capacity will be at it’s maximum, however there are times when the water level on either side will pretty much be equal, so it will produce no power.

The advantage of tidal energy and therefore the power plant at Rance, is that the tides are totally predictable, so you can very easily factor this into the energy mix, while other intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar PV and wind farms are a lot less predictable.

Rance Power Station Cost

The Rance Power plant was expensive to build in its day and took about 20 years to actually pay for itself. This is one of the major reasons the proposed £30bn Severn Barrage has not gone ahead, it is simply too expensive to undertake this kind of construction challenge in these tough economical times. However the project is being looked at once again to see if it can be constructed at a lower cost.

Since the power plant was constructed though in 1965, it has produced approximately 27,600GWh of electricity. At today’s prices, that quantity of electricity would cost £3.30bn.

Rance Tidal Power Station Environmental Assessment

Since the tidal barrage construction needed to drain the estuary in the initial years after the construction was completed, there were severe impacts to the local environment; however 10 years later it was considered that the Rance estuary once again had a rich diversity of aquatic life.

The sluice gates and the lock (built to allow boats to get through the barrage) allow a fairly easy transition from one side to the other for all aquatic animals, so this did not have any real affect on species there either. The one impact it did have was that the mud flats were severely diminished so birds that used the mud flats as a hunting ground had to adapt or move elsewhere to feed.

Rance Tidal Power Station Final Assessment

Upon reflection it must be recognised that building the Rance Power Plant was quite the engineering feet, and one that perhaps in the Western world will not be reproduced, not even with new tidal energy solutions. The fact it produces plentiful, 100% clean electricity 46 years after construction and has become a tourist attraction in its own right has proved why it was such a sensible project to start in the first place.

    Gujarat Solar Park, India

Demand for Renewables Sources of Energy in India

India has been plagued by power shortages, more than 400 million people go without electricity every year and consumption demands are forecasted to double by 2035. While it is obvious that the gap in supply and demand will, in the short term at least, have to be filled with a majority of non-renewable sources, India has realised they cannot solely rely on them going forward. This is shown by the recent expansion of renewable energy installations within the country, especially solar PV parks as a result of its hot sunny climate.

Gujarat Solar Park – Key Facts

In April 2012, the Charanka Solar Park (part of Gujarat Solar Park), located in Northern India was switched on. This solar PV installation provides 214 MW to the grid, which makes it the largest standalone solar PV installation in the world (surpassing the 200MW Golmud Solar Park situated in China). The Charanka Solar Park in association with other smaller installations located within the Gujarat region make up the Gujarat Solar Park. In total, 21 companies are involved in the Gujarat Solar Park, including four from the USA.

The Gujarant SolarPark was developed in less than two years, an incredibly short period of time when compared to other power plants. This, along with other similar installation has resulted in India being viewed as pioneers in renewable energy.

The region, made up of 5000 acres of desert wasteland hardly able to sustain any life, receives on average 330 days of sunlight per year creating an ideal situation for a solar PV park. Due to this, the solar PV Park in Gujarat has received very little opposition. Combined, the Gujarat Solar Park produces 600 MW of electricity to the grid, which accounts for two thirds of India’s total 900 MW of solar power production.

Besides simply producing a large sustainable source of electricity for India, the investment in the Gujarat Solar PV Park has dramatically reduced the unit cost of solar energy, from Rs.15 to Rs.8.5. This has made it far more cost effective as a power solution to help lessen the country’s lack of electricity. It is almost certain that following successful installations of this magnitude, similar Solar PV parks will be rolled out across the country to give even more Indians access to electricity.

Future of Solar PV in India

In India itself, coal power plants produce 55% of the total electricity and even though approximately a third of the population are without electricity, the country is still the world’s fourth largest carbon emitter. At present, renewable energy accounts for only 6% of India’s 185 GW capacity. However, the government led by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, via the National Solar Mission, hopes to increase this figure to 15% or more by 2020, with solar energy anticipated to make up 3 percent of that increase.

The Indian government has gone on record to say that, due to the opening of the Gujarat PV Park, as much as 900,000 tonnes of natural gas will be saved and carbon dioxide emission will be reduced by almost 8m tonnes per annum. Every little helps and in terms of future projections, India certainly seems to be doing their bit towards a greener age.

    Crescent Dunes CSP, USA

Crescent Dunes Solar (CSP) Energy Plant Background

In September 2011, construction began at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant, a 110MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant located near Tonopah, Nevada.  SolarReserve, a US-based developer of large-scale solar power plants, is developing the Crescent Dunes Solar Plant utilizing its market-leading solar power technology with integrated energy storage to deliver clean, reliable electricity on-demand, 24-hours a day. The 540 foot solar power tower, which is located in the centre of the overall plant layout, was completed in February 2012.

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant Key Operating Facts

Unlike most solar plants, which are made up of rows of interconnected solar photovoltaic (PV) unit, the CSP technology at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy to the 100-foot tall heat exchanger that sits at the top of the central tower and captures the sun’s energy using liquid molten salt, which is heated from 500 to 1050 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant will use approximately 10,000 mirrors, called “heliostats”, to direct sunlight towards the receiver at the top of the solar tower, each heliostat continually moving to track the sun and maximise the amount of thermal energy that the tower receives. In technology similar to SolarReserve’s, the heat is used to superheat water to generate steam to drive a steam turbine, but this is not the case in SolarReserve’s technology. SolarReserve’s technology uses molten salt to both capture the sun’s energy and then store the energy, which allows the plant to generate steam for a traditional steam turbine whenever electricity is needed, even after dark.

Comparing Traditional Solar PV to SolarReserve Technology

Previously solar energy, such as Solar PV, has largely been considered an intermittent energy source (like wind farms), meaning that the plant can only generate electricity when the sun is shining. Traditional solar plants can’t produce electricity at night, and even cloudy days or other forms of shading impact the total output of the solar plant. However, SolarReserve’s technology has found the solution to intermittency through the use of integrated energy storage. The molten salt solar thermal power technology that will be used at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant allows the plant to produce electricity 24×7.

At the beginning of the day, the “cold” molten salt, which is held at a temperature of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, is pumped up from the “cold” storage tank, up the tower, and into miles of piping that run through the walls of the receiver that sits at the top of the solar tower. Here, the molten salt is heated from 500 degrees to 1050 degrees Fahrenheit by the sun’s energy and then pumped back down the tower to the “hot” salt storage tank where the thermal energy is stored.  When electricity is needed, the hot molten salt is used to generate superheated steam to drive a standard steam turbine. After the hot salt is used, the cooler molten salt is then pumped back into the cold salt storage tank for the process to be restarted once again.

Crescent Dunes Solar Electricity Potential

As the electricity generated by the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant will provide electricity to Las Vegas, this 24/7 electricity generation potential is perhaps a prudent measure! SolarReserve will sell 100% of the electricity generated to NV Energy, Nevada’s largest utility, under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement.

It is estimated that Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant will generate approximately 500,000MWh of electricity per year, which is double the amount of electricity that would be generated by a similarly-sized PV plant, and is enough electricity to power over 75,000 houses during peak electricity periods.

Crescent Dunes Solar Power Plant Environmental Impact

Despite producing an abundant, clean source of electricity, the CSP plant may impact the environment. Obviously the mirrors are concentrating an incredible amount of heat at a very small area, posing a danger to anything that gets in its way. Any wildlife, such as birds, that come into contact with this sort of heat will be in serious trouble. In addition, the diameter of crescent Dune mirrors is 2 miles, so it is taking up serious acreage to fulfil its role.

On the whole though, the Crescent Dune Solar Energy Plant seems like a great engineering feat, providing clean electricity 24/7, in a much more efficient way than existing solar PV technology.

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