On October 31, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new concentrating solar power (CSP) project that will be led by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). CSP technology uses sunlight to produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity, and improves the efficiency and performance of traditional fossil fuel-powered plants. The SMUD project will integrate utility-scale CSP technology with SMUD’s 500 MW natural gas-fired Cosumnes Power Plant, and it will help design, build and test cost-competitive CSP-fossil fuel power generating systems in the United States. When completed, the project will feed solar-produced steam directly into the Cosumnes Power Plant’s turbines – generating at least 10 MW of new electric generation capacity. The project will also include energy storage technology to improve system performance and meet peak and off-peak power needs.
As reported by the DOE, “[t]oday, between 11 and 21 gigawatts of CSP could be built and integrated into existing fossil fuel plants in the United States – enough to power to between 3 million and 6 million homes.”
Additional Sources: U.S. Department of Energy