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 Operational
Construction began 2011 (2011)
Commission date 2015
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
Site area 1,670 acres (676 ha)
Power generation
Units operational 1
Make and model Alstom
Nameplate capacity 125 MW[1]
Capacity factor 52%
Storage capacity 10 hours
Annual generation 500 GW·h[2]

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is a 110 megawatt (MW) net solar thermal power project located near Tonopah, about 190 miles (310 km) northwest of Las Vegas.[3][4] It was developed by SolarReserve through its subsidiary, Tonopah Solar Energy,[5] and was anticipated to cost less than $1 billion.[6] EPC Contractor was ACS Cobra, which carried out the engineering design, procured the equipment and materials necessary, and then constructed and delivered the facility to Tonopah Solar Energy.

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.[3]

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.[6] In late September, 2011, Tonopah received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).[3]

Ground was broken on the project September 1, 2011.[7] 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.[8] The project entered commissioning phase in February 2014 following completion of construction.[9] It has been operational since September 2015.[10]


Crescent Dunes Solar Energy production is as follows (values in GW·h).[11]

Year Solar Fossil Total
2015 (November) 1.83 0 1.83


  1. ^ "Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant". Grupo COBRA. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "Crescent Dunes". Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Crescent Dunes: Project Under Construction, Loan Programs Office (LPO), Dept. of Energy (DOE), September 1, 2015, retrieved 17 January 2016 
  5. ^ "Crescent Dunes". SolarReserve, LLC. Retrieved 9 March 2015. [dead link]
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Tetreault, Steve (September 28, 2011). "Nevada solar project to get $737 million federal loan guarantee". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Nevada, United States of America". Retrieved April 2015. 
  10. ^ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (November 10, 2015). "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project". 
  11. ^ Energy Information Administration. "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy, Annual". Electricity Data Browser. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 

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