$3 Billion Solar Power Deal Signed By California Utility

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Pacific Gas & Electric today will announce a deal to buy as much as 900 megawatts of electricity. It will be enough to power 540,000 California homes each year, and involve the construction of five solar power plants during the next decade. The company to build the solar-thermal power plants in the Mojave Desert is BrightSource Energy.

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“From what I know, this is the biggest commitment ever in the history of solar,” said John Woolard, BrightSource Energy’s chief executive officer and president. “It’s a fairly significant undertaking on both sides.”

Building all five plants in the Mojave will cost $2 billion to $3 billion, Woolard said. The project, which faces regulatory and financing hurdles, could mean 2,000 construction jobs, and employ about 1,000 workers to operate the plants.

BrightSource’s founder and chairman is Arnold Goldman, whose now-defunct Luz International built nine solar plants in the Mojave Desert between 1984 and 1990. They’re still operating.

BrightSource uses what it calls distributed power towers, or DPTs, in which sunlight from thousands of movable mirrors are concentrated to heat water to more than 1,000 degrees in a boiler to make steam. That steam feeds a turbine that makes electricity.

BrightSource will begin the first demonstration of its technology at a small-scale plant in Israel in April. It anticipates the first of its five California plants for PG&E, a 100-megawatt facility, to be up and running “as early as 2011,” Woolard said. That plant, and a larger 200-megawatt plant scheduled to begin operation in 2012-13, will be built on the Ivanpah dry-lake bed in San Bernardino County.

Three other BrightSource 200-megawatt solar plants also are planned, to be built from 2014 to 2016 at the Broadwell dry lake, about 100 miles southwest of Ivanpah.

Via: Mercury News 

Comments

  1. says

    This is a fantastic … to avoid negatively effecting wildlife, we should shift as much of our energy generation to places desert/near desert areas as possible. If you’re interested in hearing more about BrightSource, their CEO, John Woolard, will be a featured speaker at Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street, held June 18-19, 2008 in NYC at the Waldorf=Astoria. Mr. Woolard will be speaking during the Solar Thermal session along with the CEOs of Acciona and Abengoa Solar! The website is http://www.reffwallstreet.com

  2. says

    Very good news, even though this is just an announcement and the project is still ‘in the future’. However, so large a project needs longer time in planning, administrative licensing, financial arrangements, etc. I think, that the solar power harvesting technologies are going to substantially improve their efficiency rates, very soon.

  3. Uncle B says

    Solar power will help reduce cancer by reducing our exposure to the dreaded but often forgotten benzine molecule, found in gasoline. Desert solar power can be added to our current grid right at peak times, when we need it most, the less transmission, however, the lower the losses, so expect factories to spring up near solar desert installations, where there is lots of room, by the way, for modern, practically sized, realistically designed, eco-homes that exploit solar, geothermal, wind, super-insuation and home gardening , a modern day Walden Pond of survival that will make America stronger and more stable in the energy/food pinch to come !

  4. Randy La Greener says

    Hmmmm!
    540,000 home per annum @ 900 mw
    Uhhhh ….. 600 watts per casa en California Verde ….. Great for the tree folks out there!

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