SCE Declares Solar Two is a Resounding Success

August 30, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

Southern California Edison (SCE, Los Angeles) announced that federal officials have declared the Solar Two 10MW solar demonstration project a "resounding success." The solar project, which finished its test run earlier this year, implemented technology that is commercially viable and could be applied to power plants as large as 100MW to 200MW in many parts of the world, according to the US Department of Energy and a public/private consortium led by SCE."We're proud of Solar Two's success, as it marks a significant milestone in the development of large-scale solar energy projects," stated US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "It takes us a step closer to making renewable energy a significant contributor to the global energy mix, while helping to make our environment cleaner."Solar Two used an innovative molten salt technology to collect and store the sun's energy, and was able to dispatch electricity "on demand," even at night. The demonstration project generated approximately 8,500MWh of solar power since June 1996. During its demonstration run, the project delivered electricity to the power grid around the clock for 153 straight hours; produced 1,633MWh over a 30-day period, exceeding its one-month performance measure of 1,500MWh of power production; and achieved a 97 percent efficiency of the storage system.Although Solar Two will no longer be used to generate electricity, some of its components will be applied to other efforts. The DOE expects the technology to be more immediately marketable in foreign energy markets, with domestic market introduction and acceptance likely to be more favorable after the technology becomes more economically competitive."Foreign countries such as Brazil, Egypt and Spain, have shown an interest in the application," stated Gary Burch, who oversees concentrating solar power technology at the DOE. "A number of companies both in the US and Europe are actively engaged in pursuing business opportunities in Spain that include molten salt power tower technology."