World’s Largest Solar Deal to be Constructed in California
Southern California Edison (SCE), the largest electric utility in California, and BrightSource Energy have reached an agreement on a series of contracts for 1,300 megawatts of clean solar thermal power, enough to serve nearly 845,000 homes.
The first of these solar power plants, sized at 100 megawatts and located in Ivanpah, Calif., could be operating in early 2013 and is expected to produce 286,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year, BrightSource and SCE announced in a press release.
“This landmark agreement illustrates the increasing demand for solar thermal energy as a reliable source of utility-scale renewable power,” said John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy. “We look forward to working with Southern California Edison to provide clean, reliable and cost-competitive solar energy.”
BrightSource Energy’s proprietary Luz Power Tower 550 will be used in this solar power project.
The system uses thousands of small mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop a tower to produce high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed cycle.
For its technological leadership, BrightSource Energy was recently selected as a 2009 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum – the only solar company to win the award this year.
“The efficiency advancements found in the LPT 550 system reflect our technical team’s nearly three decades of experience pioneering solar thermal technology,” said Tom Doyle, senior vice president of project development for BrightSource Energy. “We have combined this engineering experience with world-class development capabilities to help our customers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.”
The Oakland, California-based company says that the full 1,300 megawatts of projects will produce 3.7 billion kilowatt-hours of clean energy and avoid more than two million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually – the equivalent of removing more than 335,000 cars from the road.
The company now has contracted to sell up to 2,200 megawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology.
The privately held BrightSource currently conducts operations in the United States and Israel.