On Site at Nevada Solar One

Research facilities, like Sandia Labs Solar Thermal Test Facility, are very different from actual solar thermal production facilities.  Earlier this week, I visited Nevada Solar One, a privately owned facility operated by Acciona.  They use concentrating parabolic troughs to generate thermal energy from a concentrated beam of sunlight.  Their solar field spans over 400 acres of mirrors, and is capable of producing in excess of 64 MW of energy.  The entire Las Vegas area is a hotbed for solar thermal energy generation, with an average of 300 sunny days per year.  Nevada Solar One facility functions by using a heat transfer fluid to concentrate thermal energy. The heat transfer fluid is heated within the range of 630 – 740 F and pumped to heat exchangers which generate steam for use in traditional high and low pressure steam generators. Many thanks to Nat Lewis, one of the Acciona engineers who showed me around the powerplant.

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