DOE finalizes $1.6B solar plant guarantee

California complex expected to create approximately 1,000 jobs, avoid more than 640,000 tons of carbon pollution annually.

04/18/2011


The U.S. Dept. of Energy finalized $1.6 billion in loan guarantees to support the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System, three related utility-scale concentrated solar power plants. The Recovery Act funded project, sponsored by BrightSource Energy Inc., will be located on federally owned land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, near the Nevada border, and will be one of the world's largest concentrated solar power complexes. BrightSource estimates the project will create approximately 1,000 construction jobs and 86 operations and maintenance jobs.

The three-plant Ivanpah Solar Complex will generate approximately 392 gross megawatts (MW) of electricity using the company's innovative, proprietary concentrating solar power (CSP) technology. Once operational, the project will produce nearly one million megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power over 85,000 homes, and will avoid over 640,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking over 120,000 cars off the road.

The project includes solar fields containing over 173,000 dual-mirror heliostats. Brightsource's proprietary technology controls the mirrors to follow the sun, capturing a greater percentage of solar energy than other solar thermal technologies. Electricity from the project will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison Company (SCE). The project will be interconnected to the electricity grid via an upgraded SCE transmission line.

The DOE, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $18 billion to support 20 clean energy projects across 14 states. The program's nine generation projects will produce nearly 23 million megawatt-hours, enough to power over two million homes. Additional DOE-supported projects include the world's largest wind farm, two geothermal projects and the nation's first new nuclear power plant in three decades.

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, www.csemag.com