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Solar-coal hybrid project

World Coal,

Xcel Energy is now operating a first-of-its-kind demonstration of a hybrid solar-coal approach, using parabolic-trough solar technology integrated with a coal-fired power plant. The project, located at Xcel Energy’s Cameo Generating Station, is designed to increase the plant’s efficiency, decrease the use of coal, test the commercial viability of concentrating solar power thermal integration, and lower CO2 emissions. Abengoa Solar developed the parabolic-trough technology, which concentrates solar energy to provide heat for producing supplemental steam for electric power production.

Parabolic trough technology relies on parabolic mirrors heating a Dewar tube that runs along the back of them, the heat transfer fluid in the tube is the heated to 400 °C and used to power a conventional steam turbine. Coal technology is unlikely to be completely replaced any time in the next decade, and hybrid projects such as this are important to help manage the transition to cleaner technologies.

“We are very excited about getting this unique renewable energy project online,” said Kent Larson, vice president and chief energy supply officer for 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.”

The project is the first under Xcel Energy’s new Innovative Clean Technology (ICT) Program, an initiative to test promising new technologies with potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions and result in other environmental improvements.

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