Out in one part of Nevada’s desert there’s a forest being planted. But rather than trees, this is a forest of pedestals that will hold mirrors. The mirrors concentrate sunlight on a fixed target in the center of the array, and the result is electric energy production that uses no fossil fuels.
The 110 MW Crescent Dunes project, near Tonopah, is the first commercial scale facility using the advanced molten salt power tower energy storage technology, according to SolarReserve, a developer of large-scale solar energy projects with activities worldwide. The technology can capture and store the sun’s thermal energy and can operate ‘on demand’ just like conventional coal, natural gas or nuclear power plants, but without the release of harmful emissions or hazardous wastes associated with conventional power plant technology. It also doesn’t expose utilities and rate payers to volatile fossil fuel prices. The project currently has more than 500 workers on site and is entering the commissioning phase with first electricity generation scheduled in early 2014.
Watch the video to see construction underway and to learn more about how these facilities are built.