BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Power Plant Receives Go-Ahead
BrightSource Energy Ivanpah Solar Power Plant to be first large scale solar thermal plant built in California
After spending a long time waiting for approval alongside other U.S. solar thermal projects, BrightSource Energy announced last week that its large-scale solar thermal power plant project, Ivanpah, has received final approval from the Bureau of Land Management. BrightSource will start building the Ivanpah system this year, with completion anticipated in 2012.
With anticipated capacity of 392 megawatts, BrightSource estimates that the Ivanpah project will cover approximately 3,500 acres in the Mojave Desert and when complete, will supply enough electricity to fuel 140,000 homes. When finalized, it will be the first large-scale solar thermal project built in the state of California in nearly two decades, and the largest such solar electric generating system in the world. The Ivanpah project will almost double the current amount of commercial solar electricity generated today in the US. BrightSource has contracted to sell the electricity from this plant to California utilities, which need to fulfill a state mandate to supply electricity from renewable sources.
BrightSource will use its Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology in the construction of Ivanpah. The technology utilizes thousands of mirrors to focus the sun’s power onto solar receivers perched on top of the power towers. The complex will eventually include three separate plants constructed in phases between 2010 and 2013.
BrightSource Energy plans to use air cooling rather than water, with a process that uses only 100 acre-feet of water annually, a decrease of 90% when compared to other solar thermal technologies.
BrightSource projects that the Ivanpah system will cut major air pollutants by 85% in comparison to new natural gas-fired plants, and will prevent 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is equivalent to eliminating 70,000 automobiles from the transit system.