The US Energy Department has announced a new concentrating solar power (CSP) project led by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The project will integrate utility-scale CSP technology with SMUD’s 500 MW natural gas-fired Cosumnes Power Plant. Supported by a $10 million Energy Department investment, this project will help design, build and test cost-competitive CSP-fossil fuel power generating systems in the United States.
“Responsible development of America’s solar energy resources is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy, and the Sacramento project furthers our commitment to building a cleaner, more sustainable energy future,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. “Innovative systems that combine solar power with traditional energy sources will help cut carbon pollution across the U.S. power sector while improving the efficiency and performance of both resources.”
Concentrating solar power technology uses sunlight to produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity. Hybrid systems couple traditional fossil fuel-powered plants with CSP technology to improve the efficiency and performance of both systems and marry baseload power with new, cost-effective capacity. Today, 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.
The SMUD project announced today will feed solar-produced steam directly into the plant’s turbines – generating at least 10 MW of new electric generation capacity. The project will include energy storage technology to improve system performance and meet peak and off-peak power needs.