The Sandia National Laboratories has announced plans to build a new facility allowing researchers, developers, and manufacturers to test and develop new concentrated solar power systems on its Albuquerque campus.
In essence, the funding will allow Sandia to demonstrate a next-generation solar thermal power plant.
The agency is receiving a $25 million contract through the federal Department of Energy to make operational a facility that will produce thermal energy for thousands of hours. The heat, in turn, can be applied to generate electricity, among other purposes.
The funding is part of a larger goal earlier announced by the Energy Department to reduce by some 60% solar power costs in the next 10 years.
Sandia, which has already been working on wind turbine development and other renewable energy systems, is additionally the home to the National Solar Thermal Test Facility.
In a statement, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm remarked that in “many parts of the country, solar is already cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels, and with more innovation we can cut the cost again by more than half within the decade.”
Besides the $25 million awarded to Sandia by the Energy Department for what is officially called the Gen 3 Particle Pilot Plant, an additional $5 million is being put up by Sandia itself.
By Garry Boulard
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