EPRI, Tri State, NV Energy to demonstrate solar thermal hybrid plants

Palo Alto, Calif., December 3, 2009 – The Electric Power Research Institute is working on two industry technology demonstration projects designed to help utilities add solar energy to fossil-fueled power plants that could result in reduced emissions and fuel costs.

Both projects involve adding steam generated by a solar thermal field to a conventional fossil fuel-powered steam cycle to help generate electricity, creating a solar “hybrid” plant.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., will host one demonstration at its coal-fired 245-MW Escalante Generating Station in Prewitt, NM.

NV Energy will host the other at its natural gas-powered 1,102-MW Chuck Lenzie Generating Station near Las Vegas.

Solar thermal hybrid applications have the potential to be an important, low-cost option for adding solar power to the generation fleet, allowing utilities to meet renewable energy regulatory targets, reduce plant emissions, and lower fuel costs.

The hybrid system will inject solar-generated steam into the steam cycle of the fossil plants, resulting in fewer emissions and a lower reliance on fossil fuels. This approach solves the intermittency challenge of integrating solar power onto the grid without compromising the reliability of supply.

EPRI, plant owners and operators, and other participants have formed collaboratives to provide data from these solar thermal hybrid projects to the industry and public.

The collaboratives will support the hosts in selecting the integration design, and conduct independent plant performance monitoring, evaluation and economic assessments of their planned projects.

The EPRI demonstrations, to be conducted in conjunction with construction of new solar thermal facilities, will provide support throughout all phases of the projects.

The collaborative will help select designs that can achieve the desired cost and performance targets while maintaining the availability and reliability of the existing plant; develop plans for the hybrid plant performance evaluation and testing; and then carry out performance monitoring and evaluation, component testing, economic assessment, and reporting of operating parameters during plant commissioning.

EPRI will rely on its expertise in solar technologies, steam cycles, and plant operation, as well as past solar and fossil plant studies, including two on solar-augmented steam cycles completed this year at the host sites for the new demonstration projects. EPRI holds two patents in solar steam cycle optimization.

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