A first-of-its-kind project makes energy from a triple whammy: Hot rocks, solar panels and mirrors

Gigaom

In a few weeks, a first-of-its kind power plant — which uses energy from hot rocks deep in the earth, combined with the heat and light from the sun — will start producing power from all three sources at a site in Churchill County, Nevada, about a two-hour drive east of Reno. The project is called the Stillwater Geothermal/Solar Hybrid plant, and Enel Green Power North America, an American division of the huge Italian power company Enel, is now hard at work finishing construction on the solar portion, which collects the sun’s heat using large concave mirrors that concentrate the sunlight by 75 times.

The solar thermal project at Stillwater, built by Enel Green Power North America. Image courtesy of Katie Fehrenbacher, Gigaom. The solar thermal project at Stillwater, built by Enel Green Power North America. Photo by Katie Fehrenbacher.

A geothermal plant at the site went online in 2009, and a sprawling solar panel field — using 89,000 panels across 240 acres — started delivering energy in 2012…

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