Nevada's Largest Solar Power Plant Opens
Large-scale power plants are nothing new for Nevada, but
Nevada Solar One, located in the desert outside Las Vegas,
is different. This new $250 million plant will produce up
to 64 MW of solar power, making it one of the largest solar
energy producers in the world.
Nevada's high-desert sun is providing cheap, abundant fuel
for a new $250-million, 64-MW solar thermal power plant in
Boulder City, 25 mi southeast of Las Vegas.
The facility, "Nevada Solar One," opened in April
and is generating enough electricity to power 48,000 homes
in the Las Vegas Valley. The plant was developed by Solargenix
Energy LLC of Raleigh, N.C. (formerly Duke Solar Energy LLC).
Abilene, Texas-based Lauren Engineers & Constructors was
the engineering-procurement contractor.
Nevada Solar One is the biggest solar electric power project
in 14 years, and the third largest in the world, Solargenix
officials say. It makes Nevada, which has 320 days of sun
a year, one of the nation's largest solar energy producers.
"Nevada has proven to be very forward thinking in promoting
solar and other renewables," says Solargenix CEO John
Myles. "The main factor here is that you can get very
large blocks of power coming from solar energy in one single
location. It is very clearly the lowest cost solar energy
that can be produced today."
The plant uses futuristic machinery with 190,000 curved parabolic
mirrors that concentrate desert sunlight to 750° Fahrenheit
to heat synthetic oil inside tubes that, in turn, create stream
and drive a turbine to produce electricity.
The project's liquid tubes or "solar receivers"
are specially coated glass-and-steel vacuum tubes that were
designed and produced by Israel-based Solel Solar Systems
Ltd. with Schott North America Inc. of Elmsford, N.Y., under
a $10 million subcontract. The newly built plant uses about
19,300 of these 4-meter-long receivers.
The system is supported by 7 million lbs of aluminum assembled
into 9,120 space frames, each consisting of 36 components.
Phoenix-based Hydro Aluminum
North America was the frame contractor, while German-based
Flabeg provided the mirrored panels and Sweden's Siemens provided
the project's $12-million, SST-700 industrial steam turbine.
Nevada Solar One uses something called parabolic trough technology,
which is considered a major renewable energy system capable
of competing head-to-head with fossil-fuel-burning power plants,
according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
"Given today's natural gas prices combined with tax incentives
offered in the recently passed energy bill, utilities and
investors are showing a lot of interest in the development
of large-scale concentrating solar power plants," says
Mark Mehos, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's solar
program manager. "This is the first in line of a string
of new large-scale domestic and international concentrating
The plant features a 10,000-sq-ft administrative center with
a 28-person full-time staff, plus a visitors' center and classrooms.
It additionally uses a unique thermal storage system that
allows heat to be stored in the form of molten salt to produce
electricity after sunset.
The project employed an average workforce of 400 people, and
peaked at 850 tradesmen. Nevada Solar One required 1.5-million
man-hours of work to complete during 14 months of cosntruction.
Solargenix currently has a 40-year lease with Boulder City
to occupy 350 sq acres in the Eldorado Valley for $550,000
a year in rent payments. The company also signed an option
to lease another 650 acres in the future.
Nevada Power Co., Las Vegas, contracted to buy 50 MW of the
power generated from the new plant. It built a new 230 kv
substation as well as transmission lines connecting to the
Assembly Bill 431 in 2003 and AB3 in 2005 require up to 20%
of Nevada's power to come from a renewable resource by 2015,
with roughly 5% coming from solar power.
Owner: Solargenix Energy LLC
EPC Contractor: Lauren Engineers & Constructors
Solar Receiver Design/Fab: Solel Solar Systems Ltd.
Suppliers: Schott North America Inc.; Siemens AG;
Flabeg; Hydro Aluminum North America
To learn more on the developer of this project, visit www.solargenix.com
To learn more about solar power and photovoltaics,
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