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World's Largest Solar Thermal Plant (340MW) Planned for Arizona

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The Mohave Sun Power company is planning a project in Mohave County that could begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2010.

It will use 4,000 acres of land and employ concentrating solar power. Molten salt will be the storage medium.

Mitchell Dong, the company’s CEO explained the technology, “It’s a parabolic trough, or a ‘U’-shaped mirror that reflects or concentrates the sunlight by a factor of 100 to this thin tube of transfer fluid. In this case, it’s a synthetic oil heated to 800 degrees by the sun’s light. There are rows and rows of these collectors and this 800 degree oil is pumped to a central power block, a central location where that hot oil goes to a boiler. It makes steam and drives a single steam turbine.”  Of course the whole installation would use many arrays of parabolic troughs.

Energy generated by the plant would be purchased by California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. If the planning and construction processes go smoothly the plant could starting producing electricity by 2013. The planning actually has been going on for some time: “We have been working on this for over a year,” said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson. (Mohave County has already had a different 200 MW project planned for construction.) This larger one will depend upon federal stimulus money for financing.

If approved and funded, the project could generate an estimated 1,500 jobs during the construction phase, and require 100 employees when operational. Such a large plant would also generate local tax revenues. Construction cost is estimated at two billion dollars.

(A nuclear power project requiring two reactors could cost 17 billion.)

In addition to the planning and funding challenges, the project must address the need for a large amount of water used for cooling purposes. The current solar power capacity of the US is over 9,000 MW, and it is growing steadily.

Image Credit: Richard Montoya, Public Domain

 

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Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JakeRsol

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