This will be the first solar thermal power plant to be built in the last 15 years. It was commissioned by the U.S. project group Solargenix Energy. SCHOTT, the German technology group, will be providing 19,300 solar receivers that will form the key components of the 64 megawatt power plant. Nevada Solar One is expected to begin providing energy to the grid in June 2007, and will produce enough electricity to meet the energy demands of about 40,000 households. The use of solar power to produce electricity at the plant, rather than fossil fuels, will result in a reduction of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing approximately one million cars from U.S. highways.
On the occasion of the ground-breaking ceremony, Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT AG, said: "The order we received for the power plant in Nevada has established our company as a global leader in the area of receivers, in terms of both our technology and our position in the market. We are pleased to contribute a key component to this forward-looking technology for climate friendly generation of electricity." Solar thermal power plants utilize solar energy to generate heat that is then converted into electricity. Parabolic trough power plants, such as "Nevada Solar One", contain thousands of trough-shaped parabolic mirrors, which concentrate sunlight onto specially coated absorber tubes (receivers) located along the focal line. Solar radiation heats up the thermo-oil flowing through the receivers to almost 400° Celsius (over 750° F) so that downstream heat exchangers are able to generate steam. As in a conventional power plant, the steam is pressurized inside the turbines that drives the generators.
"Nevada Solar One" represents the first parabolic trough power plant to be built in 15 years. During this time, nine such power plants located in the Mojave Desert in California have been generating solar electricity with a total output of 354 megawatts. Back then, SCHOTT also delivered the high quality special glass tubing that were used for the receivers. In 2004, SCHOTT developed a high-performance receiver of its own that offers substantially improved quality. This product will be put to use in Nevada. SCHOTT is currently preparing series production of these receivers at its site in Mitterteich, Bavaria, where the company will have access to all of its know how as a leading international manufacturer of special glass tubing.
Thanks to their extremely high efficiency and the lowest electricity production costs of all types of solar technologies, parabolic trough power plants will 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.
Experts have expressed that the realization of the power plant in Nevada could well provide 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 inside the sunbelt. Europe's very first commercially operated solar thermal power plant is scheduled to be built quite soon near Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia. Here, too, receivers from SCHOTT will be put to use. With a capacity of 50 MW, "AndaSol I" will be capable of satisfying the personal electricity needs of more than 50,000 households e.g. more than 150,000 people.