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40,000 Homes Powered by Solar Electricity

On February 11, 2006 the ceremony for the new development of the “Nevada Solar One” solar power plant took place in Boulder City, Nevada. The Nevada Solar One will be the first solar thermal power plant built in the past 15 years. The project was commissioned by the U.S. project group Solargenix Energy.

German technology group SCHOTT will be providing 19,300 solar receivers for the 64 megawatt power plant which is expected to begin providing energy to the grid in June 2007. Nevada Solar One will produce enough electricity to meet the energy demands of about 40,000 households.

Environmental Benefits of Solar Power
By using solar power to produce electricity rather than fossil fuels, there will be a reduction of greenhouse gases which is roughly equivalent to removing about one million cars from U.S. highways. Solar power plants use solar energy to generate heat that is then changed into electricity.

Nevada Solar One is a parabolic trough power plant, containing thousands of trough-shaped parabolic mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto specially coated absorber tubes called receivers, located along the focal line.

How Solar Power Works
In order to harness solar energy, radiation from the sun heats up the thermo-oil flowing through the receivers to close to 750 degrees Fahrenheit so that downstream heat exchangers can generate steam. That steam is then pressurized inside the turbines that drive the generators, similarly to in a traditional power plant. .

For the past 15 years, nine similar power plants located in the California Mohave Desert have been generating solar electricity with a total output of 354 megawatts. In 2004, SCHOTT, who supplied the glass tubing for the previous receivers, developed a high-performance receiver of its own and that receiver will be put to use on Nevada Solar One, the first parabolic trough power plant to be built in 15 years.

Thanks to their extremely high efficiency and the lowest electricity production costs of all types of solar technologies, parabolic trough power plants are estimated to soon offer the potential to generate electricity in regions inside the Earth's sunbelt at costs comparable to those of power plants that run on fossil energy sources.

The Future of Solar Energy
Experts have expressed that the realization of the power plant in Nevada could bring a global breakthrough in generating electricity with the help of solar thermal technology. Additional projects are currently being planned in the southwest of the United States, Spain and other regions. Europe's very first commercially operated solar thermal power plant, AndaSol I, is scheduled to be built soon near Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia. With a capacity of 50 MW, it will be capable of satisfying the personal electricity needs of more than 50,000 households e.g. more than 150,000 people.

» For more information on alternative energy visit Energy Voyager.

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