Get Ready for Crescent Dunes

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project in Tonopah slated to open this year

Concentrating solar power uses fields of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a structure in which the solar heat is  collected to generate electricity. Unlike the more common photovoltiac (PV) solar energy technology – the kind found on rooftops – CSP has the capacity to store energy, in the form of heated material, so electricity can continue to be generated after the sun sets.

How does concentrating solar work?  A picture is worth a thousand words, and we found this great video that gives us the story on Crescent Dunes CSP.


More than 800 megawatts of CSP plants currently operate in the United States. Four new CSP plants, including Crescent Dunes CSP and the recently-opened Ivanpah plant in California’s Mojave Desert will soon increase the total CSP capacity in the United States to 1.8 gigawatts. These new CSP plants will provide enough electricity for nearly half a million homes.

Crescent Dunes CSP  is expected to generate 485,000 megawatt hours per year, enough to power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity usage periods.

In a recent project update video, Solar Reserve’s site manager Brian Painter says, “Crescent Dunes will be a game changer. This plant can do anything any other power plant can do, but with this power plant there’s no fossil fuel involved – it’s strictly the power of the sun.”

Here’s a picture of the almost-completed Crescent Dunes CSP project. The plant is in the commissioning phase now – testing and calibrating the various systems from the heliostats to the steam turbines – and is expected to go online in the fall.

Aerial photo of Crescent Dunes CSP project, January, 2014. Photo courtesy SolarReserve

Aerial photo of Crescent Dunes CSP project, January, 2014. Photo courtesy SolarReserve

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