Energy Department to Fund Projects Integrating Solar with Fossil Fuel Plants

  • Susan Phillips

The PS10 solar tower plant sits at Sanlucar la Mayor outside Seville, Spain. The solar tower plant, the first commercial solar tower in the world, by the Spanish company Solucar (Abengoa), can provide electricity for up to 6,000 homes.

The Department of Energy has announced $20 million dollars to fund two to four projects combining solar power with existing fossil fuel plants. The hybrid power plants will use “concentrating solar power” to help generate electricity and reduce harmful air emissions. Concentrating solar power uses mirrors to focus the sun’s rays on a collector, which turns the heat into steam, powering turbines. The DOE hopes the projects will spur new innovation in solar hybrid power plants, and make the technology more affordable.

“The new funding announced today strives to overcome near-term market and technological barriers for cost-effective CSP hybrid system implementation. Additionally, CSP hybrid technology may help enable further cost reductions in stand-alone CSP projects and spur innovations across the broader concentrating solar power supply chain. The projects selected for funding under this program will work to design, build, and test cost-competitive integrated CSP-fossil fuel power generating systems.”

Spain has been the world’s leader in developing CSP plants. Stand-alone concentrating solar plants in the U.S. have created some controversy lately due to uncertainty over whether local municipalities experience net revenue gains or losses.

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