A huge solar power plant is being built in a desert in southeastern California. BrightSource Energy is the developer of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System that is capable of generating 392 megawatts of solar thermal power once it is completed.
Once its construction is complete, the Ivanpah Solar Generating System will be the largest one in the world. It will be larger than the PS20 solar power plant, which is the current largest solar tower power plant, found near Seville in Spain.
The Ivanpah Solar Generating System would double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy generated in the United States. It uses BrightSource Energy’s LPT 550 technology, which combines solar technology with conventional power generation to produce clean yet reliable power.
A lot of environmental planning went into the design of the solar power tower plant from the location, to land and water use, to the plant operation. The end result is a sustainable power plant that will serve the state for years.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will use power towers, which uses a field of mirrors called heliostats to concentrate the sun’s rays on a single solar receiver on atop of a tower. The solar receiver will then produce steam that in turn would spin a turbine and generator to create electricity. When the focus of the mirrors is correct, they could produce steam at high pressure with temperature reaching as high as 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The solar power tower plant in Ivanpah is designed not only to provide energy through sustainable energy source but also maximize the economic benefits of the community. Employees of the power plant are locally sourced through the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California as well as the Building and Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The power plant will also give the financial revenues through state and local taxes.
Google recently announced that it will invest in the Ivanpah Solar Generating System, which will be used to complete the project. Google said that their investment into the Ivanpah solar project is by far their largest and the company has already invested over $250 million in the clean energy sector.
The construction of the Ivanpah Solar Generating System started in October 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2013. Aside from Google’s investment into the project, it is also financed by NRG and through a clean energy technology loan provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.