As fossil fuel prices rise and emission allowances are implemented, solar augmented steam cycles might be an attractive option for energy companies. The system utilizes steam generated by a solar field in a conventional natural gas or coal-powered steam cycle, offsetting some of the fuel required to generate power. Many energy companies are interested in adding solar power to their generating mix, but today most solar applications are not cost-competitive with other power generating options. Solar augmentation potentially is the lowest cost option for adding solar power to the generation fleet. The highest intensity solar energy typically is within a few hours of peak summer loads, making it a particularly attractive renewable option.

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