SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes Project is largest solar plant of its kind in the world. The plant uses giant mirrors and molten salt, an eco-friendly blend of sodium and potassium nitrate that can store energy at very high temperatures, to store power and generate electricity, even after the sun has set.
Here’s how it works:
1. Tracking mirrors called heliostats rotate continuously thoroughout the day to follow the sun.
2. The heliostats focus and concentrate sunlight on the receiver at the top of the central tower.
3. Molten salt flows to the top of the tower and is heated by the concentrated sunlight to temperatures over 1000F.
4. The heated salt is then stored in a thermal storage tank.
5. When electricity is required, some of the heated salt flows into a steam generator, along with water. This creates steam, which is used to drive a turbine that generates electricity.
6. The steam is then re-condensed and flows back into the water storage tank.
SolarReserve's innovative process creates 100 percent renewable power with zero emissions. The Crescent Dunes Project is currently about 85 percent complete with around 2,000 heliostats left to install. With workers assembling and installing up to 60 heliostats a day, they are on track to officially open later this year. SolarReserve's goals for the project include helping to meet Nevada's growing demand for energy resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil energy supplies.
Watch "TechKnow," Sunday 7:30ET/4:30PT to learn more about SolarReserve, the Crescent Dunes Project, and the future of solar energy.