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Published on February 22nd, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst

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Acciona Dedicates US' First New Concentrating Solar Plant in 16 Years



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Las Vegas, Nevada – The current period of sustained growth in the American Southwest is putting tremendous demands on important resources like water, wildlife habitat, and, with the light beaming from the top of Las Vegas’ Luxor Hotel as a reminder, electricity. Nevada currently gets about 90% of its electricity from fossil fuels, and the majority source fuel is natural gas.

As natural gas prices are predicted to rise, a debate is stirring about whether the state needs to build new coal-fire power plants to meet current needs, or whether it should tap its renewable resource potential. For that reason, Acciona Energy could not have picked a better time than today to dedicate their new 64 MW concentrating solar power plant (CSP) in Boulder City, Nevada, less than thirty miles from the Las Vegas strip. And with a star-studded collection of speakers like Ed Begley Jr., NASA astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, and Apple co-founder and tech whiz Steve Wozniak, the Spanish-based Acciona dedicated the facility in true Las Vegas style.

The 300-acre site in Boulder City uses parabolic trough collectors to generate electricity. The 760 mirrored troughs track the movement of the sun’s path, and their 184,000 mirrors face the sky and concentrate the sunlight to a large metal and glass receiver in the middle of the trough that holds circulating oil. The oil travels to heat exchangers, which heat water and create steam that spins a turbine. Seems simple enough, right? Continued…

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.



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