As much as we all want coal as an energy source to go away completely, we also know it will take the government and private sector sometime (too long in our opinion) to fully move to clean energy sources. In the meanwhile, methods need to be developed which can minimize the impact of fossil fuel usage on the environment. One such pilot project is going on near Grand Junction, Colorado, at Xcel Energy’s Cameo Generating Station using a unique solar-coal hybrid design.
Xcel Energy said it has connected a parabolic-trough solar technology system developed by Abengoa Solar to its coal power plant. This system concentrates solar energy to provide heat for producing supplemental steam for electric power production, which Xcel Energy feels will help lower the usage of coal as an energy source at this facility while also testing the commercial viability of concentrating solar power thermal integration and lowering carbon dioxide emissions.
This project is believed to be the world’s first known demonstration of the hybrid solar-coal approach using the parabolic-trough solar approach. It is part of a larger program by Xcel Energy to test promising new technologies with potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions and result in other environmental improvements. The company said this program allows it the opportunity to test these technologies and evaluate their cost, reliability and environmental performance at a demonstration scale before determining whether they should be deployed more widely.
“We are very excited about getting this unique renewable energy project on line,” said Kent Larson, vice president and chief energy supply officer for Xcel Energy, in a statement. “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.”