A metropolis of solar panels can be found in the Crescent Dunes with its thousands of glass panels in a stark contrast to the Nevada dessert. Moreover, the power plant created a technology that could operate and collect solar energy even at night.
Challenging Potential of Sun’s Energy
The Earth’s atmosphere is able to absorb a total light energy in an hour that is worth more than enough to meet the global energy needs. In fact, the total energy from the sun that can be absorbed by our planet in a year is worth two times more than we will ever get from non-renewable sources like coal, natural gas, and oil.
Solar energy is one of the most important sources of renewable energy. It is readily available each day and all we have to do is figure out how we can harness the massive energy from it. But it is easier said than done.
Various technologies have been made to collect and store the massive energy of the sun. However, one problem persists: it only operates as long as the sun is out; before Crescent Dunes’ solar oasis, that is.
Promising Molten Salt Technology
The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project stands in dark contrast with its wide arrays of glass panels and a striking tower in the middle as compared to the dust and rocks of the Nevada desert where it is situated. A total of 10,437 solar panels (with over one million square meters of glass) surrounds the tall central tower that could power 75,000 homes at high energy demands.
Crescent Dunes uses a storage method called molten salt technology. According to one of the project’s founders Kevin Smith, it is the “world’s most advanced energy storage technology” as the fields of mirrors that collects energy reflects it directly to the energy plant’s tower.
After going through various processes, the molten salt is able to keep the heat which can then be converted into electricity using a conventional steam turbine when energy is required. With that, the solar panels can operate even when the sun is not visible, unlike the conventional methods of using photovoltaic (PV) panel technology.
Smith has big faith in their technology that it could one day not just be an alternative to the PV tech but to replace “fossil fuel or even nuclear” in the future. Because of their molten salt technology, they could “power a city” says Smith.
Solar panels have evolved greatly to be able to efficiently harness the great solar energy we could get. With Crescent Dunes’ technology, we might be a step nearer to reaching one of the most far-reaching efforts for having the best economical renewable energy source.