Issue Date: September 7, 2009
Power Plant Couples Coal, Solar Energy
XcelEnergy's Cameo power plant near Grand Junction, Colo., will be the world's first facility to generate electricity by coupling coal and solar fuel sources. If successful, the state-funded $4.5 million demonstration project may be expanded and tried at other coal-fired plants, says Hank Price, vice president of technology development at Abengoa Solar, a Spanish energy company. Abengoa will build a 4.5-acre parabolic-trough-concentrating solar system adjacent to the coal-fired power plant to feed hot water to the plant's boiler and turbine system. Price stresses that it is a small solar pilot project and estimates its input will provide 3% or 1.3 MW to the 44-MW plant. Price believes solar could provide 10% or more of a coal plant's output, cutting carbon dioxide emissions and coal use. The solar system will be operational this fall, Price says, and will run for at least a year. The 52-year-old coal plant is set for retirement at the end of 2010 and, Price notes, provides an opportunity to overcome utility objections to trying an experimental system on a fully operational coal-fired power plant.
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