Two Best Project awards have been given by Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest to SolarReserve, a developer of utility-scale solar power for a particular solar project it designed for Nevada called Crescent Dunes. The construction phase of the project has been completed, and now the project is in the commissioning phase, which means the plant is being started up and tested. (Construction began in 2011, so we see how fast it can be to build a large solar power plant.)

Utility-scale solar is not new, but the Crescent Dunes facility also has its own form of energy storage. Heat created by the solar power system is transferred to a molten salt power tower. The heated salt is extremely hot and can retain its heat for hours. In fact, it can provide 10 hours of full-load energy storage.

“The Crescent Dunes project will set industry standards for solar energy storage and will prove U.S. developed technology to be the world’s leading solution to efficiently and cost effectively store solar energy, so electricity can be dispatched to meet demand whenever it’s needed – day and night,” explained SolarReserve’s CEO, Kevin Smith.

The electricity generated by the plant will be used by NV Energy during peak energy demand times. It has been estimated that Crescent Dunes will be able to provide electricity to about 75,000 homes during such peak energy periods.

NV Energy signed a 25 year power purchase agreement for the plant’s electricity.

Many solar power plants don’t have the electricity storage capability that Crescent Dunes does, so it has an advantage over them, and that is one of the reasons it was given the engineering awards.

Another project plus was the fact the most of the construction workers were sourced from within Nevada, so the local economy received some sort of boost. Once operational, the plant will employ about 45 permanent workers.

A Department of Energy loan of $737 million was included in closed financing for the project. SolarReserve, ACS Cobra and Santander also invested.

Through the first ten years of operation, it has been estimated that about $37 million will be generated in tax revenues.

SolarReserve, LLC has its headquarters in Santa Monica, CA