Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project

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Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project
Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is located in Nevada
Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project
Location of Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada
Country United States
Location Tonopah, Nye County, Nevada
Coordinates 38°14′N 117°22′W / 38.233°N 117.367°W / 38.233; -117.367Coordinates: 38°14′N 117°22′W / 38.233°N 117.367°W / 38.233; -117.367
Status Under construction
Construction began 2011 (2011)
Commission date March 2015 (expected)
Construction cost $0.975 billion
Owner(s) Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC (SolarReserve, LLC)
Solar farm
Type CSP
CSP technology Solar power tower
Heliostats 17,500 × 62.4 m² (1.1 km²)
Site area 1,600 acres (647 ha)
Power generation
Units operational 1
Make and model Alstom
Nameplate capacity 125 MW[1]
Capacity factor 52%
Annual generation 485 GW·h

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is a 110 megawatt (MW) net solar thermal power project under construction near Tonopah, about 190 miles (310 km) northwest of Las Vegas.[2] The project is being developed by SolarReserve through its subsidiary, Tonopah Solar Energy.[3] The project is anticipated to cost less than $1 billion.[4]

The project includes 17,500 heliostat mirrors that collect and focus the sun's thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through an approximately 540-foot (160 m) tall solar power tower. The 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 used to generate power for up to ten hours, including during the evening hours and when direct sunlight is not available.[2]

Under a power purchase agreement (PPA) between SolarReserve and NV Energy, all power generated by the Crescent Dunes project in the next 25 years will be sold to Nevada Power Company for $0.135 per kilowatt-hour.[4] In late September, 2011, Tonopah received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).[2]

Ground was broken on the project September 1, 2011.[5] Construction terminated at the end of 2013, followed by several months of testing the plant systems. Melting about 70,000,000 pounds (32,000,000 kg) of salt takes two months. Once melted, the salt stays melted for the life of the plant and gets cycled through the receiver for reheating.[6] Commercial operation is expected to begin in mid 2015.[needs update][7]


  1. ^ Alstom selected for a steam turbine and a generator order for a Nevada thermosolar plant
  2. ^ a b c "Energy Department Finalizes $737 Million Loan Guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy for Nevada Project" (Press release). Loan Programs Office (LPO), Dept. of Energy (DOE). September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Crescent Dunes". SolarReserve, LLC. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Wesoff, Eric (September 29, 2011). "DOE Races Against the Clock: Two Solar Loans Closed, Seven More to Go". Greentech Media. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Tetreault, Steve (September 28, 2011). "Nevada solar project to get $737 million federal loan guarantee". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Hashem, Heba (April 4, 2014). "No drama as SolarReserve commissions world’s largest CSP tower with storage". CSP Today Business Intelligence (FC Business Intelligence Limited). Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Illia, Tony (January 23, 2012). "Salty Solution Generates Solar Power During Day and Night". ENR Southwest (The McGraw-Hill Companies). Retrieved 9 February 2012. 

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