NRG Energy, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary NRG Solar, announced on September 24th that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System produced its first output of energy when the Unit 1 station was synced to the power grid for the first time. Achieving this critical “first sync” is a major milestone for the project.
This successful test demonstrates the effectiveness of the station’s power tower technology, which includes large heliostats that track the sun throughout the day, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator.
“Given the magnitude and complexity of Ivanpah, it was very important that we successfully complete this milestone showing all systems were on track,” said Tom Doyle, President of NRG Solar. “We couldn’t be more excited about achieving ‘first sync,’ and we share this success with our project partners, BrightSource and Google, as well as Bechtel, which is responsible for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning on the project.”
Power generated from Ivanpah’s initial sync testing will go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which has a power purchase agreement (PPA) for energy produced out of the plant’s Unit 1 station. Power generated from Ivanpah’s Unit 3 station is also sold under a PPA with PG&E, while Unit 2 is under a PPA with Southern California Edison. Proof-of-concept testing will also be conducted at Unit 2 and 3 in the coming months.
“This is yet another major milestone that we have successfully achieved as Ivanpah approaches completion,” said David Ramm, Executive Chairman of BrightSource Energy, Inc. “Ivanpah is the showcase project for BrightSource’s power tower technology and technical expertise. Validation at this scale demonstrates the viability of our technology as BrightSource increases focus on international markets and applications for concentrating solar power.”
“The achievement of this major milestone was possible through the tireless efforts of the entire project team – from the craft to the field engineers and technical experts,” said Toby Seay, President of Bechtel’s power global business unit. “With the cooperation of Ivanpah’s owners, we have been able to bring to life a world-class solar project that will help California meet its renewable energy goals safely and effectively.”
“At Google we invest in renewable energy projects that have the potential to transform the energy landscape. Ivanpah is one of those projects,” said Rick Needham, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Google. “We’re excited about the project achieving this first sync – a landmark event along the path to completion. Congratulations to the many people who have worked so hard to get this far.”
Located in California’s Mojave Desert, Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the world, spanning 3,500 acres of public land. Once fully operational, the 392 megawatt (377 megawatt net) plant will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes annually. Ivanpah’s three power tower units will also nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy capacity now operating in the United States.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is one of several NRG assets that are subject to a Right of First Offer Agreement between NRG Energy Inc., and the newly-created NRG Yield, Inc..