SolarReserve moves forward on Rice solar energy project in California

Source: SolarReserve LLC

SolarReserve, a California-based developer of utility-scale solar power projects, will continue to move forward on its Rice Solar Energy Project now that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for the 25-year power purchase agreement announced last December. The 150-megawatt solar energy project will be located on private land located 30 miles northwest of the city of Blythe in eastern Riverside County, California. When completed, SolarReserve’s facility will supply approximately 450,000 megawatt hours annually of clean, reliable electricity—enough to power up to 68,000 homes during peak electricity periods—utilizing its innovative energy storage capabilities.

“The California Public Utilities Commission’s approval represents an important milestone in bringing non-intermittent renewable energy assets online to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standards and green house gas emission reduction targets,” said Kevin Smith, SolarReserve’s CEO. “Moving ahead on this project is especially exciting for us given we are a California-based company deploying technology developed here locally and will provide a reliable electricity product to thousands of Californians.” 

Utilizing an advanced molten salt system technology under exclusive worldwide license to SolarReserve from United Technologies Corporation, the Rice Solar Energy Project has the ability to store 10 hours of solar energy and consequently has the capacity to generate electricity during cloud cover or after the sun has gone down as well as the ability to shift power production to meet peak demand periods. This energy storage capability provides a stable, reliable electricity product similar to that of conventional fuel-burning power facilities.

What makes the project unique in comparison to most other large scale solar thermal projects in California is that it is located on private, previously disturbed land. Also, the project will not require supplemental natural gas, with the associated emissions, for periods of cloud cover or start up operations. These attributes have helped the project obtain “fast track” status to move on a priority basis through the California Energy Commission’s licensing process. SolarReserve hopes to receive all approvals for the project by the end of the year. 

SolarReserve’s molten salt, concentrating solar power tower technology was successfully demonstrated in California under a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored pilot project in the late 1990s. The 10-megawatt pilot facility utilized a molten salt receiver designed, engineered and assembled by Rocketdyne, now a part of United Technologies Corporation.

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