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Concentrating Solar Power

SolarReserve erects tower for largest solar thermal plant being built

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant, the world's largest concentrating solar power plant being built which uses molten salt, finished an important construction stage this week with the completion of its 540-foot tower.

The tower is a vital part of the project. A receiver tank containing a mix of molten sodium and potassium salts will be placed on top of it. Later, flat mirrors called heliostats will concentrate and direct sunlight to the tank, heating the mixture to generate steam.

The 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes project is jointly owned by California-based developer SolarReserve, engineering and construction group ACS Cobra and global financial services and banking provider Santander.

Being built 14 miles northwest of Tonopah, Nevada on 2,250 acres of land leased from the Bureau of Land Management, it will also be the first of its kind in the United States.

Crescent Dunes was one of the last three projects granted a loan guarantee by the Department of Energy in September 2011. The conditional loan guarantee is for $737 million.

"This project is on track to bring American innovation to fruition and is already creating jobs," said Kevin Smith, chief executive of SolarReserve.

Construction of the project is expected to generate, at peak, more than 600 on-site jobs and 4,300 direct and indirect and induced jobs.

Once operational, the project is forecast to generate $47 million in total tax revenues through its first 10 years of operation.

A 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy has been secured, by which the project will provide clean energy to approximately 75,000 homes come operations start at end of 2013. – Katrice R. Jalbuena

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