Mixing Solar and Coal

Via Rich Sweeney, and interesting project to test adding solar energy to existing fossil fuel plants:

Both projects involve adding steam generated by a solar thermal field to a conventional fossil fuel-powered steam cycle, either to offset some of the coal or natural gas required to generate electric power or to boost overall plant power output. The projects will be conducted in parallel, with one focused on natural gas plant technologies and the other on coal plant technologies.


  1. Although this doesn’t sound like a big deal [one can build solar thermal wherever one can build solar thermal, whether or not there’s a gas/coal plant around), BUT the main real issue is that it can take advantage of existing grid, and that is valuable, since grid is one of the main bottlenecks.

  2. John –

    Great point. I’m going to explore this question more, as we’ve got two big coal plants here in New Mexico in an area that I believe has huge solar potential (up near the Four Corners).

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