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 2016[1]
Construction cost $0.975 billion
Owner(s) Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC (SolarReserve, LLC)
Solar field
Type CSP
CSP technology Solar power tower
Collectors 10347 × 115.72 m²
Total collector area 296 acres (1,200,000 m2)
Site area 1,670 acres (676 ha)
Site resource 2,685 kW·h/m2/yr
Power generation
Units operational 1
Make and model Alstom
Nameplate capacity 110 (net) MW[2]
Capacity factor 16.1% (actual) / 51.9% (planned)
Storage capacity 10 hours
Planned generation 500 GW·h[3]

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is a 110 megawatt (MW) net solar thermal power project with 1.1 gigawatt-hours of energy storage,[1] located near Tonopah, about 190 miles (310 km) northwest of Las Vegas.[4][5] It is the first utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plant with a central receiver tower and advanced molten salt energy storage technology from SolarReserve. The project, developed by SolarReserve and owned by Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC. 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 10,347 heliostats that collect and focus the sun's thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through an approximately 640-foot (200 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.[4] The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas. Each heliostat is made up of 35 6×6 feet (1.8 m) mirror facets, yielding a heliostat overall usable area of 1,245 square feet (115.7 m2). Total solar field aperture adds up to 12,882,015 square feet (1,196,778 m2).

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 Solar Energy received a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).[4]

Ground was broken on the project in September 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 synchronized to the grid in October 2015 and began delivering energy.[11] The facility was commissioned in February 2016 and will ramp up production over the next year.[12]

Solar Energy production is as follows.[13]

Generation (MW·h) of Crescent Dunes Solar Energy [14]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2015 1,703 1,831 0 3,534
2016 1,504 9,095 7,099 2,158 11,485 6,216 25,560 28,267 30,514 5,410 0 - 127,308
Total 130,842

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Crescent Dunes 24-Hour Solar Tower Is Online". CleanTechnica. 22 February 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Crescent Dunes Solar Thermal Power Plant". Grupo COBRA. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Crescent Dunes". Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  4. ^ 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). 28 September 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Crescent Dunes: Project Under Construction". Loan Programs Office (LPO), Dept. of Energy (DOE). 1 September 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Wesoff, Eric (29 September 2011). "DOE Races Against the Clock: Two Solar Loans Closed, Seven More to Go". Greentech Media. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Tetreault, Steve (28 September 2011). "Nevada solar project to get $737 million federal loan guarantee". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Hashem, Heba (4 April 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 29 December 2016. 
  10. ^ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (10 November 2015). "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project". 
  11. ^ "Crescent Dunes 24-Hour Solar Tower Is Online". CleanTechnica. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  13. ^ Energy Information Administration. "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy, Annual". Electricity Data Browser. Retrieved 1 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "Crescent Dunes Solar Energy, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved February 4, 2017. 

External links[edit]