Like a polished corporate businessman coming together with a barefooted nonconformist, longtime enemies coal and solar power have finally called a truce. The Xcel Energy power plant near Grand Junction, Colorado, has just implemented the first-of-its-kind solar-coal hybrid approach. At Xcel Energy’s Cameo Generating Station, a traditional coal-fired plant has been integrated with parabolic-trough solar technology developed by Abengoa Solar. By concentrating solar energy to produce steam for power production, this exciting new technology has the ability to increase the plant’s efficiency, decrease coal usage, and lower carbon dioxide emissions. If this investment is successful, the commercial viability of hybrid plants could see a boost.
Under their Innovative Clean Technology (ICT) Program to explore new ventures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve the environment in some way, the coal-solar power plant is Xcel Energy’s first project. Through this clean energy initiative,the company has the opportunity to test new technologies and evaluate their cost and environmental performance at a smaller scale before setting it up for a grander, statewide customer base. Already, Xcel boasts the usage of hydro, wind, and waste-derived sources for power generation.
“We are very excited about getting this unique renewable energy project on line,” gushes Kent Larson, vice president of Xcel Energy. “If this project produces the successful results we expect, this type of solar thermal integration will help move the use of solar energy one step closer to being a potential technology for improving the environmental performance of coal-fired power plants for Xcel Energy and for utilities around the country.” Adds Abengoa Solar CEO, Santiago Seage: “We believe that the solar approach being implemented at Cameo will provide a cost-effective way of delivering solar energy.”
To find out more about solar-coal hybrid power, visit the Xcel Energy website where you can also view their numerous environmental initiatives.