The Electric Power Research Institute announced yesterday that two utility companies (Dynasty Inc and NV Energy) will test out the addition of solar thermal energy to natural gas plants in Arizona and Nevada. The EPRI is conducting the project to determine if using solar thermal at fossil fuel plants will reduce fuel costs and plant emissions.
The natural gas plants will add steam created by solar thermal fields to the conventional natural gas-powered steam cycle. Ultimately, EPRI plans to add solar thermal technology to coal-powered plants as well.
In addition to reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions, EPRI believes that solar thermal technology could also boost coal and natural gas power enough in existing plants to eliminate the need for new infrastructure. And since fossil fuel plants aren’t going anywhere, giving them renewable energy capabilities makes a great deal of sense.
Photo Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.