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Solar Power Question: What is Solar Two?

Answer: In 1995 Solar One was converted into Solar Two, by adding a second ring of 108 larger 95 m (1,000 ft) heliostats around the existing Solar One, totaling 1926 heliostats with a total area of 82,750 m (891,000 ft). This gave Solar Two the ability to produce 10 megawatts. Solar Two used molten salt, a combination of 60% sodium nitrate and 40% potassium nitrate, as an energy storage medium instead of oil or water as with Solar One. This helped in energy storage during brief interruptions in sunlight due to clouds. The molten salt also allowed the energy to be stored in large tanks for future use such as night time. Solar Two was decommissioned in 1999, and was converted by the University of California, Davis, into an Air Cherenkov Telescope in 2001, measuring gamma rays hitting the atmosphere. Its name is now C.A.C.T.U.S..

"We're proud of Solar Two's success as it marks a significant milestone in the development of large-scale solar energy projects," said then U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

"This technology has been successfully demonstrated and is ready for commercialization. From 1994 to 1999, the Solar Two project demonstrated the ability of solar molten salt technology to provide long-term, cost effective thermal energy storage for electricity generation.", Boeing

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