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New Hybrid Technology Combines Solar Thermal and Coal-Fired Energy

New hybrid solar thermal-coal technology, developed by Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. combines heat from both generation systems to power the existing turbine, power block and grid structures. The technology has been tested at Tri-State’s Northwest New Mexico Escalante power plant and the tests were successful. What better way to get the solar technology off the ground and create a recycling program for coal-fired power plants? All without miles and miles of additional power lines. This could also alleviate some of the challenges posed by the intermittent nature of the sun.

Tri-State, the power company that owns Escalante Plant, benefits by being able to incorporate more green technologies for a lower carbon footprint, all without having to shell out a ton of capital to build entirely new facilities. How happy is Tri-State with the results of the tests?

“We are intrigued with the positive results of EPRI’s solar augmentation study that was conducted at our Escalante Generating Station,” said Ken Anderson, Tri-State’s Executive VP and general manager. “We are extremely interested in further exploring the practical application of this breakthrough technology, [which] could further advance the efficiencies at one of our existing facilities.”

The Escalante Generating Station is rated at 245 megawatts. By replacing some coal generation with solar thermal, it’s sort of like the company is adding one roof panel at a time until the whole house is self-sufficient. That may not be the goal for Tri-State, however. The goal may be compliance with renewable energy mandates. Either way, any sized solar installation is done in phases, making it easy on companies heavily invested in non-renewables to add renewable energy to their portfolio. Since the uses for coal-fired power plants are probably minimal once decommissioned, the structure could house power storage and maintenance equipment associated with the solar thermal plant. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in its higher form, essentially.

(Source: New Mexico Business Weekly.com)

For more on solar thermal hybrid power plants, check out this RenewableEnergyWorld article.

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