ITS Logistics worth its salt
Solar Reserve’s 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar energy project in Tonopah will power up to 75,000 homes once it’s completed by year’s end.
ITS Logistics of Sparks played a major role in bringing the plant online.
The $1 billion Crescent Dunes facility is the largest concentrated solar power project in the world. The plant uses 17,170 mirrors, each measuring about four feet square, in a circle that’s roughly four miles wide. The mirrors, also called heliostats, focus sunlight on a heat exchanger atop a 550-foot tower that heats molten salt from 500 to more than 1,000 degrees. The molten salt in turn passes through a steam generator, which drives a steam turbine to create power.
ITS Logistics and ITS National, the transportation brokerage arm of ITS Logistics, was given 40 days to move 95 million pounds of salt from Reno and Los Angeles to the remote site.
The bulk of the contract, 55 million pounds of sodium nitrate, was sourced from BASF of Germany and arrived to the United States in ocean-bound containers. It was drayed to a warehouse in Reno before being driven to Tonopah by the ITS Logistics fleet.
The other portion of the contract, 38 million pounds of potassium nitrate sourced directly from the Dead Sea and shipped from Haifa, Israel, was delivered by ITS National. ITS Logistics President Jeff Lynch assigned 35 company drivers to the Reno portion of the project, while ITS National supplemented delivery of the Dead Sea salts with partner carriers. ITS National hired drivers from throughout the Los Angeles basin, as well as from Las Vegas, Bishop and Reno. More than 40 drivers worked on the project.
At peak ITS Logistics moved about a million tons of salt a day from Reno. ITS National General Manager Mike Crawford says that a total of 1,521 truckloads of palletized salt in super-sacks weighing 2,700 pounds each were shipped from Reno and Los Angeles. ITS Logistics also brought in portable docks and ramps to handle unloading of the super-sacks of salt.
Timing, Lynch adds, was a crucial component of the delivery schedule.
“In the push, we had to deliver 35 truckloads a day for a six-week period,” he says. “It was resources more than anything — having enough drivers and making sure they were coming in every 20 to 30 minutes. To make 25 to 30 deliveries in Tonopah, where you have no services, hotels and a remote location becomes very tough. The Reno guys had to get in and out quickly to get home so they could reset their hours of service. The L.A. guys had to travel in sleepers. We had 15 loads a day coming in from L.A. We had teams on it, and singles sleeping in the middle of the state.”
ITS Logistics won the contract, Lynch says, through a relationship formed with Solar Reserve builder ACS Cobra of Madrid. ITS had shipped parts, mirrors and job storage trailers to the Solar Reserve site for ACS Cobra.
“The biggest challenge of whole thing was timing delivery of both blends — if you mess up the ratio or don’t deliver one of the products, they can’t melt the salt,” Lynch says.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.