Emerson Process Management signed a contract to apply its Ovation expert control system at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project near Tonopah, Nev. This system is scheduled to come online at the end of 2013, and when it does, the 110-megawatt concentrated solar power (CSP) project will be the first commercial-scale solar facility in the United States to generate power from solar energy that is captured and stored in liquid molten salt.
The project, developed by Tonopah Solar Energy LLC, is expected to produce enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 75,000 homes during peak electricity demand, and will be executed by Cobra Thermosolar Plants, Inc. as engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
The Crescent Dunes facility will use SolarReserve's CSP technology, which enables energy from the sun to be captured and stored to generate electricity on demand. The system not only stores and generates energy when the sun is shining, the entire process contributes to the overall grid stability.
According to Emerson's press release the process of storing and generating energy is as follows:
"The facility's 10,500 mirror assemblies focus the sun's energy to heat molten salt that flows through a central receiver, which sits atop a 540-foot-tall solar power tower. The molten salt will flow from the 'cold' storage tank, up the tower where it circulates through the receiver and is heated by the sun's energy from 500 degrees Fahrenheit to 1050 degrees. The molten salt then flows down to the 'hot' storage tank, where the thermal energy will be used to produce steam to power a standard steam turbine, which then generates electricity. Excess thermal energy will be stored in the molten salt."
Emerson's Ovation technology will directly control the circuit and heating process of the molten salt system, the water/steam cycle and auxiliary processes. The control system will also provide supervisory control of the mirrors and interface with the turbine control system.