Ivanpah, Calif., August 12, 2012 — NRG Energy, Google, BrightSource Energy and construction partner Bechtel announced that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has reached the halfway mark of construction of this solar thermal project.
Ivanpah has also reached its peak construction workforce, with more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on-site. The $2.2 billion project is on-track to be complete in 2013.
The 370 MW Ivanpah solar power facility is located on about 3,500 acres of federal land in California's Mojave Desert managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The three individual power plants at Ivanpah will feature BrightSource Energy's solar thermal power tower technology to produce clean, renewable energy from the sun. When completed in 2013, the facility will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US.
Power generated from the plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). The first unit will begin supplying power to PG&E in mid 2013, with units two and three delivering power to Southern California and PG&E respectively by late of 2013.
In total, the project will power more than 140,000 homes and businesses in California. Ivanpah will help its customers PG&E and SCE meet the state of California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements, legislation requiring each investor-owned utility to procure 33 percent of its energy portfolio from renewable resources by 2020.
The three-unit Ivanpah SEGS commenced construction in October 2010 and is halfway complete. In the power block area, home to the major power plant equipment, workers have erected three steel tower structures to support the boilers which extend to a height of 459 feet, welding interconnecting pipe inside the boiler and installing power plant equipment. In the solar field, workers are installing the project's 173,000 pylons and heliostats, which are assembled on-site at a rate of 500 each day. To date, workers have installed more than 100,000 steel pylons and nearly 50,000 heliostats.
Ivanpah will employ BrightSource's power tower solar thermal technology, which generates power the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses the sun's energy.
BrightSource's system uses a field of software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, to reflect the sun's energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce the high temperature and high-pressure steam. The steam can then be integrated with conventional power plant components to produce predictable, reliable and cost-competitive clean energy.