SMUD to launch natural gas, concentrating solar power project

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new concentrating solar power (CSP) project led by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The project will integrate utility-scale CSP technology with SMUD’s 500-MW natural gas-fired Cosumnes Power Plant.

Supported by a $10 million DOE investment, the DOE said this project will help design, build and test cost-competitive CSP-fossil fuel power generating systems in the U.S.

Concentrating solar power technology uses sunlight to produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity. Hybrid systems couple traditional fossil fuel-powered plants with CSP technology to improve the efficiency and performance of both systems and marry baseload power with new, cost-effective capacity.

Today, between 11 and 21 GW of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the U.S. – enough to power to between 3 million and 6 million homes.

The SMUD project will feed solar-produced steam directly into the plant’s turbines – generating at least 10 MW of new electric generation capacity. The project will include energy storage technology to improve system performance and meet peak and off-peak power needs.

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