Tonopah, Nevada, USA
With an installed capacity of 110MW, the Crescent Dunes Energy Project located in Nevada is one of the largest central tower power generation plants of the world. Once completed, what is scheduled by late 2013, it will power up to 75,000 households in the city of Las Vegas.
The plant is a milestone in industrial construction and is supported by the Department of Energy of the United States, which participates in financing the project.
The infrastructure has a 160 meters tall central tower and more than 100,000m3 of concrete (the world's largest of its kind), where a circular receiver is located. 10,400 heliostats collect and reflect the light onto the 30.48 meters tall receiver. The circular mirror array (with a radius of 1,380 meters) captures sunlight from a total area over 120 hectares. The entire complex, including temporary facilities, solar evaporation ponds, etc., will occupy an area of 700 hectares.
Solar radiation concentrated onto the receiver raises the temperature of the molten salt from 300°C to 560°C. Then, the superheated salt is sent to the storage tank, which has a capacity of 10 hours production at full load. The salt will be used to produce steam, which in turn will move a turbine generating 125MW (gross power).
The whole system is cooled by a hybrid cooling system, consisting of an ACC and a cooling tower.