California Energy Commission licenses Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

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Oakland, Calif., September 23, 2010 — The California Energy Commission has approved the construction of BrightSource Energy Inc.’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

The approval brings BrightSource, a developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, one major step closer to commencing construction of the 370 nominal (392 gross) MW project.

When constructed, Ivanpah will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today.

“We’re thankful for the commission’s approval of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and for the thorough review it has received from state and federal agencies,” said John Woolard, president and CEO of BrightSource Energy. “With the PG&E and Southern California Edison contracts, a conditional U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee and CEC permit, the Ivanpah project is uniquely positioned to make a meaningful contribution to the world-leading renewable energy standards Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California legislature have established for the state, and to bring good jobs to the California’s High Desert community. We look forward to commencing construction on Ivanpah and setting a model for environmentally-responsible utility-scale solar projects.”

The Ivanpah project is also being reviewed by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is expected to issue its final record of decision in the coming weeks. BrightSource expects to have all of the necessary permits to commence construction in fall 2010.

In February 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded BrightSource Energy $1.37 billion in conditional loan guarantees to support the financing of the Ivanpah project.

The Ivanpah Project: Clean Energy, Union Jobs, Environmentally Responsible Design

The Ivanpah project, located in southeastern California, consists of three separate solar thermal power plants. When constructed, the project will:

* Produce enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes

* Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road

* Create more than 1,000 local union jobs at the peak of construction

* Provide $650 million in employee wages over its first 30-year life

The Ivanpah project will be built by Bechtel, a global leader in engineering and construction. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building and Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, ensuring that California’s local workforce benefits from the project.

“We are very pleased that the California Energy Commission has moved the Ivanpah solar project one step closer to reality,” said Bob Balgenorth, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. “These good paying, high skill, green jobs are exactly what California needs to jumpstart our economy.”

The power generated from the Ivanpah solar plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison. PG&E will purchase about two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase about one-third. In all, BrightSource has contracted with PG&E and SCE to deliver more than 2,600 MW of electric power from fourteen solar power plants.

The Ivanpah project is also setting a higher bar when it comes to environmental design. Instead of the extensive land grading and concrete pads employed by other competing solar technologies, BrightSource mounts mirrors on individual poles that are placed directly into the ground, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and co-exist with vegetation.

In order to conserve precious desert water, the Ivanpah project will employ an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle.

By using air-cooling, the project will use only 100 acre feet of water per year, about 95 percent less water than competing solar thermal technologies that use wet-cooling.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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