Nevada Solar One is the, largest concentrated solar power plant in the world, with a nominal capacity of 64 MW and maximum capacity of 75 MW, as of June 2007. The project required an investment of $266 million USD and electricity production is estimated to be 134 million kilowatt hours per year.
It is the second solar thermal power plant built in the United States in more than 16 years and the largest STE plant built in the world since 1991. It is on the southeast fringes of Boulder City, Nevada. It was built by Acciona Solar Power (formerly Solargenix), a partially owned subsidiary of Spanish conglomerate Acciona Energy. Lauren Engineers & Constructors (Abilene, TX) was the EPC contractor for the project. Acciona purchased a 55 percent stake in Solargenix and owns 95 percent of the project. Nevada Solar One is unrelated to the Solar One power plant in California.
A year earlier, Arizona Public Service's Saguaro Solar Facility opened, in 2006, using similar technology, located 30 miles north of Tucson, and producing 1 MW. Nevada Solar One went online for commercial use on June 27, 2007. It was constructed over a period of 16 months. The total project site is approximately 400 acres (0.6 mi² / 1.6 km²), while the solar collectors cover 300 acres (1.2 km2).
Nevada Solar One uses 760 parabolic troughs (using more than 180,000 mirrors) made by Flabeg AG in Germany that concentrate the sun's rays onto thermos tubes placed at the focal axis of the troughs and containing a heat transfer fluid (solar receivers), in contrast to the power tower concentrator concept that California's original Solar One project uses. These specially coated tubes, made of glass and steel, were designed and produced by Solel Solar Systems as well as by Schott Glass in Germany. Motion control was supplied by Parker Hannifin, from components by Ansco Machine Company. The plant uses 18,240 of these four-meter-long tubes. The heat transfer fluid is heated to 735 °F (391 °C). The heat is then exchanged to water to produce steam which drives a conventional turbine.
Solar thermal power plants designed for solar-only generation are well matched to summer noon peak loads in areas with significant cooling demands, such as the southwestern United States. Using thermal energy storage systems, solar thermal operating periods can be extended to meet base load needs. Given Nevada's land and sun resources the state has the ability to produce more than 600 GW using solar thermal concentrators like those used by Nevada Solar One.
Nine parabolic concentrator facilities have been successfully operating in California's Mojave Desert commercially since 1984 with a combined generating capacity of 354MW for these Solar Energy Generating Systems. Other parabolic trough power plants being proposed are two 50 MW plants in Spain (see Solar power in Spain), and two 110 MW plants in Israel.
It has been proposed that massive expansion of solar plants such as Nevada Solar One has the potential to provide sufficient electricity to power the entire United States.
Nevada Solar One is a solar thermal power station and will use parabolic troughs, heating tubes of liquid (solar receivers). These solar receivers are specially coated tubes made of glass and steel.
Nevada Solar One also uses a technology that collects extra heat by putting it into phase-changing molten salts. This energy can then be drawn on at night.
Nevada Solar One started producing electricity in the June 2007.