NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy announced that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah SEGS) was awarded CSP Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA. Ivanpah SEGS in California’s Mojave Desert is currently the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant under construction. When completed, it will double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US.
“[The] Ivanpah Project has helped advance technology in the industry, shown us new ways to secure financing, and is setting records and inspiring the industry,” said Laura Dinnewell, Director of Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference. “The project has secured not only a US Department of Energy loan guarantee, but also $168 million from Google and $300 million for NRG Energy as equity investors. Ivanpah offers a great example of how a large-scale project, if well structured, can still attract the necessary investment to succeed.”
“Ivanpah serves as an industry model in achieving reliable, cost-effective and environmentally-responsible clean energy at utility-scale. On behalf of the Ivanpah project, including our partners NRG Energy, Google and Bechtel, we are honored to receive this award from Solar Power Generation USA,” said Mike Bobinecz, Ivanpah Project Director and Vice President, BrightSource Construction Management, BrightSource Energy. “We look forward to completing this important solar power facility and bringing California one giant step closer toward its goal of producing 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”
“NRG’s investment in Ivanpah represents our commitment to not only support promising clean energy technology that will lead America to a brighter economic future, but also to work with the best partners and technology providers in the industry,” said Randy Hickok, Vice President of Asset Management, NRG Solar.
Ivanpah commenced construction in October 2010 and is expected to begin delivering power to its utility customers PG&E and Southern California Edison in 2013. Upon completion, the project will employ over 1,600 construction workers and on-site project support staff.
Technology Provided by BrightSource Energy
Ivanpah will employ BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology, which generates power the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses the sun’s energy. BrightSource’s system uses a state-of-the-art field of software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce the high temperature and high-pressure steam. The steam can then be integrated with conventional power plant components to produce predictable, reliable and cost-competitive clean energy. BrightSource’s technology is designed to produce the highest temperature and pressure solar steam in the world.
About the Ivanpah Project
The Ivanpah solar power facility is located on approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in California’s Mojave desert, managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior‘s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The 377 megawatt (net output) facility consists of three separate solar thermal power plant that, when constructed, will produce enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes.
The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase approximately one-third. In all, BrightSource has contracted with PG&E and SCE to deliver approximately 2,400 megawatts of electric power.
BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that construction of the Ivanpah project will require approximately over 1,400 union jobs at the peak of construction. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California‘s local workforce benefits from the project. The project will also provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life.
An Environmentally Responsible Project
The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. BrightSource’s system is also designed to minimize impacts on the natural environment. In addition to being one of the most land-efficient renewable energy technologies, BrightSource’s low impact heliostat layout is flexible, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation. And in order to conserve scarce water resources, the technology employs an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using air-cooling, BrightSource’s technology uses more than 90 percent less water than older technology parabolic trough plants with wet cooling.