Halfway between Reno and Las Vegas near the old mining town of Tonopah, one of the most advanced solar plants on the planet is poised to provide enough sun-juice to power more than 75,000 homes. The Crescent Dunes project is visually stunning, with a field of more than 10,000 heliostat mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays toward a 650-foot tall power tower in the center of the mandala-like circular array. Although the appearance resembles the Ivanpah plant a few hours’ drive south, there’s a crucial difference between the two concentrating solar power sites: SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes site sports a molten salt-based energy storage capability that will permit the plant to supply power pretty much around the clock. Crescent Dunes is also the subject of an ongoing multipart YouTube series titled, appropriately, “Bottling the Sun.”
The web series kicked off July 2, and has added a weekly episode over the course of the month. Now up to episode 4, the video vignettes each have a particular theme. The second segment, titled “Getting to Know Tonopah,” highlights the town’s historic role in the silver rush. “Reinventing Solar,” the third clip, trumpets just how “revolutionary” the Crescent Dunes project is compared to PV, the voiceover dripping in hyperbole about how the project “has reinvented solar energy as we know it” with its “game-changing technology.” The most recently posted video, “The Sky’s the Limit,” promotes a charming vision of small-town Americana, Tonopah style, as locals comment on the tightness of their community and their support of solar.
I came across the “Bottling the Sun” series via my Facebook news feed, since I must have liked the SolarReserve page awhile back–the dreaded FB algorithms know full well that I’m interested in anything to do with solar. There’s a dedicated post about each video there, along with other recent news from the company, such as its South African successes. The company’s Twitter feed also has numerous tweets about the series. But when I surfed over to SolarReserve’s actual website, I could not find one mention or link to the YouTube channel. On the homepage, the YT widget was nonfunctional. Although I appreciate the social media-driven character of the “Bottling the Sun” campaign, it’s shocking to see the complete lack of Interweb cross-pollination.
In addition to the hyperlinks to the episodes above, I’ve embedded the first episode below for your direct viewing pleasure. As the segments range from 2 to 3 minutes, watching what’s been posted so far of the well-produced program only takes about 10 minutes. Though I would have preferred the revolutionary “sky is the limit” rhetoric toned down, kudos to SolarReserve for coining a decent tagline in “bottling the sun” and for doing exactly what the phrase suggests at the impressive Crescent Dunes CSP plant.
AERIAL PHOTO OF CRESCENT DUNES COURTESY OF SOLARRESERVE