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
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
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.
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