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Concentrated Solar Power

When completed in 2007, Nevada Solar One (NS1) was the first concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built in 17 years, and the third largest. Since then, a number of similar plants have been built in the US and elsewhere, bringing sustainable, cost effective solar power to an increasing number of consumers. NS1 covers about 400 acres of Nevada desert near Boulder City, with a nameplate rating of 64 MW, sufficient to power over 14,000 homes annually while avoiding CO2 emissions equivalent to 20,000 cars.

Over 7 million pounds of extruded 6061 alloy aluminum components provide the mounting/tracking system for NS1's 760 parabolic concentrators and 182,000+ mirrors. The extrusion-based design:

  • provided the precision needed to optimize mirror alignment. The resultant system achieved a significant focus improvement over National Renewable Energy Laboratory recommendations, yielding a real energy output about 4% greater than planned.
  • offered the strength necessary to withstand high desert winds on the large parabolic mirrors, meeting a performance target of 85 mph winds with the assemblies in the upright position.
  • reduced weight to approximately 1/3 of that of prior steel designs, allowing minimization of drive components in the sun-tracking system.
  • permitted installation in about 1/3 the time of traditional designs, thanks to innovative extruded connectors, light weight and a 50% reduction in the number of parts. The framing was without a single weld, and did not require field alignment for the mirrors.
  • eliminates most ongoing maintenance, due to aluminum's corrosion resistance.
For more information on NS1:

For more information on extrusion applications in renewable energy: Click on Extrusion Applications - Energy.

Images: Hydro, ACCIONA North America