Solar power plant near Tonopah produces electricity for NV Energy after bankruptcy shutdown


A billion-dollar solar power plant is back in operation in the Nevada desert after it went bankrupt and closed in April 2019.

The Crescent Dunes solar power project began producing electricity for NV Energy in July with little fanfare after failing to generate a profit in its first four years of operation. The owners of the plant reached a bankruptcy settlement with the U.S. government in July 2020.

Unlike most solar farms, the power plant uses more than 10,000 heliostats – mirrored devices that track the sun across the sky – to focus sunlight on a 650-foot-high tower, heating molten salt to it. ‘interior to boil water, causing electricity generators with steam. It was the world’s largest solar power plant with the technology to store electricity, producing electricity day and night.

Investigations with NV Energy and the US Department of Energy did not provide any information, but the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did provide information on the restart of the project.

Power generation resumed on July 17 after successful synchronization with the steam turbine. The turbine underwent an overhaul after the plant closed in a bankruptcy.

The Crescent Dunes solar power project in operation on August 29, 2021, just north of Tonopah. (Greg Haas / 8NewsNow)

The plant operated at 40% to 50% of its capacity, according to a BLM source. The plant has a contract with NV Energy to generate electricity to meet demand during the high demand summer months.

The plant was designed to operate for 30 years.

A website for the company that owns the plant, Solar Reserve, has been shut down. ACS Cobra, the Spanish company that built the project, did not respond to a request for further information.

In addition to its difficulties in generating a profit, the plant has also been criticized because the birds were dying from the intense heat produced by the panels. Some reports indicated that the birds caught fire in mid-flight.

Another issue involved a report that workers were hospitalized after being exposed to nitrogen dioxide, a gas emitted from the hot salt tank.


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