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Southwest Concentrating Solar Power 1000-MW Initiative

Photos of various concentrating solar power systems.

NREL, working through SunLab, supports the U.S. Department of Energy's goal to install 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new concentrating solar power systems in the southwestern United States by 2010. This level of deployment, combined with research and development to reduce technology component costs, could help reduce concentrating solar power electricity costs to $0.07/kilowatt-hour. At this cost, concentrating solar power can compete effectively in the Southwest's energy markets.

To achieve the Initiative's goal, the U.S. Department of Energy is partnering with the Western Governors' Association to encourage concentrating solar power installations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. These states not only have the best solar resources in the United States, but installing concentrating solar power systems can also help them:

  • Meet rapidly growing electricity demand, providing the highest capacity during utility peak loads
  • Reduce the load on long distance transmission lines
  • Meet their renewable energy portfolio standards
  • Diversify their energy supply
  • Reduce the demand for and price pressure on natural gas
  • Improve and/or maintain air quality
  • Create new jobs and economic opportunity.

NREL has focused its Initiative efforts on working directly with state partners, informing them of recent technological advancements in concentrating solar power, and identifying possible implementation approaches. NREL supports the development of direct normal solar radiation maps for the U.S. Southwest. We also analyze the energy, economic, and environmental benefits of the technology for potential Initiative participants.