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You are here: > News > Feb. 12, 2006

Top 100
Nevada Solar Thermal Plant Breaks New Ground

350-acre solar power plant in Boulder City will be one of the largest in the world, and one of the most efficient due to improvements in materials and construction.

BOULDER CITY, NEVADA, USA -- Solar energy saw a breakthrough this weekend with Solargenix's groundbreaking in Boulder City Nevada for a 64 megawatt thermal power plant that will cover 350 square acres.

This marks the first Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) energy project in the U.S. in more than 15 years.

Though other solar technologies look more promising in their cost per kilowatt-hour, Solargenix President, John Myles, likes to think that this system is "the lowest cost solar energy that can be produced today."

Named Nevada Solar One, the facility is expected to begin providing energy to the grid in 2007 and will produce enough electricity to meet the energy demands of about 40,000 households. The use of solar power to produce electricity at the plant, rather than fossil fuels, will result in a reduction of greenhouse gases equivalent to removing approximately one million cars from the nation’s highways.

How it Works

At the heart of the array is a new PTR 70® solar receiver produced by Schott.

These receivers convert energy from the sun into electricity by using concentrated solar radiation from the plant’s parabolic mirrored trough reflectors, which increase the temperature of the thermo-oil Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF) flowing through the receivers to over 750° F. This heated fluid is then used to turn water into steam, which drives a turbine and generates electricity.

Solargenix plans to use 19,300 of SCHOTT’s PTR 70 receivers at Nevada Solar One.


Schott has developed new glass and steel coatings for the PTR 70 receiver, making it more reliable and efficient than earlier models. In addition, Schott redesigned the receiver’s bellows and glass-to-metal seals so that the amount of the tube’s active area has been increased to capture 96% of the maximum possible energy from the sun.

Schott says that communities in sunbelt areas around the world are increasingly looking to this technology to satisfy their growing energy needs.

The PRT70 receivers have the following improvements over earlier designs:

  • New anti-reflective glass coatings: Previous glass coatings failed over time to adhere to solar receivers’ borosilicate glass outer envelope tubes. SCHOTT has developed a new anti-reflective glass coating for its receivers that resists abrasion for years, while still allowing more than 96% of solar radiation to reflect onto and penetrate the receiver, heating the transfer fluid within.
  • New absorptive steel coatings: In order to achieve peak efficiency the steel absorber tube located inside the outer glass envelope tube needs to absorb as much solar radiation as possible while releasing as little heat as possible. SCHOTT’s new absorptive steel coating improves radiation absorption rates to 95%, while helping ensure that no more than 14% of the heat from the steel tube is released prematurely.
  • Improved glass-to-metal seals: In other solar thermal receivers, differences in the thermal expansion of the inner steel tube and the outer glass envelope tube resulted in tube failure when there were severe shifts in temperature. The new PTR 70 receiver uses a new borosilicate glass with the same thermal expansion coefficient as steel. The result is a receiver that can handle the changes in temperature that occur as cool Nevada desert nights quickly become hot desert days. This improvement was designed to reduce both maintenance time and the need for replacement parts.
  • A more efficient design: In order to maximize the energy captured by the receiver, as much of the receiver tube as possible needs to be used to heat the HTF that flows within. By positioning the receiver’s bellows on top of its glass-to-metal seals, SCHOTT has been able to expand the percentage of the length of the tube used to capture solar radiation to 96%. An independent study by the German Aerospace Center on the new PTR 70 tubes at the Plataforma Solar de Almeria testing site in southern Spain has shown that this new design improves the receivers’ overall efficiency by 2% over previous models and competitive products.

“Even a small increase in a solar thermal power plant’s efficiency and reliability can result in a large increase in kilowatt hours of electricity generated or a significant reduction in plant downtime or maintenance hours,” said Alex Marker, SCHOTT Solar Thermal Research Fellow.

Many other companies are involved in other aspects of hardware and construction.  EPC of Houston is the main construction contractor.  Hydro, of Phoenix is building the aluminum tracking frames that suspend the mirrors.


SCHOTT is a technology-driven, international group that sees its core purpose as the lasting improvement of living and working conditions through special materials and high-tech solutions. Its main areas of focus are the household appliance industry, pharmaceutical packaging, optics and opto-electronics, information technology, consumer electronics, lighting, automotive engineering and solar energy.

SCHOTT has a presence in close proximity to its customers through highly efficient production and sales companies in all of its major markets. It has more than 17,000 employees producing worldwide sales of approximately $2 billion. In North America, SCHOTT’s holding companies SCHOTT Corporation and its subsidiary SCHOTT North America, Inc. employ about 2,500 people in 16 operations.

SCHOTT is one of the leading solar industry companies worldwide. The international technology group supplies components for almost all photovoltaic and solar thermal applications. PV solar electricity modules with various performance ratings are used for decentralized power generation. Receivers are the key components in solar thermal parabolic trough power plants, a mature technology perfected over twenty years for centralized power generation along the Earth’s sunbelt.

# # #

Concept image of Nevada Solar One installation



See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Feb. 11, 2006
Last updated December 24, 2014





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