The two companies also announced that Bechtel Enterprises, the project development and financing arm of the Bechtel organization, will become an equity investor in all of the Ivanpah solar power plants.
Under the terms of a series of EPC agreements, Bechtel will provide engineering, procurement, and construction services for the Ivanpah System – a 440 megawatt solar power facility consisting of three separate solar thermal power plants in southeastern California. The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts established by BrightSource Energy with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). BrightSource’s contracts with PG&E and SCE total 2.6 gigawatts.
“Combining Bechtel’s world-class EPC capabilities with BrightSource’s leading solar thermal energy team is a natural fit,” said John Woolard, BrightSource’s President and CEO. “We share a common vision of setting the standard in building environmentally-friendly solar power plants while creating jobs for local communities. We very much look forward to partnering with Bechtel on constructing the Ivanpah facility.”
BrightSource estimates that the Ivanpah facility will result in approximately 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction, 86 permanent jobs*, and total economic benefits of $3 billion. The plants will also displace more than 450,000 tons (408,000 metric tonnes) of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 75,000 cars off the road.
The Ivanpah facility is scheduled to begin construction in early 2010 following final permitting by the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management. In December 2008, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens to purchase the largest ever solar-powered steam turbine generator for the first of the three Ivanpah plants.
The Ivanpah facility will utilize BrightSource Energy’s proven Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550). The LPT 550 solar system produces electricity 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 thousands of mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity. This fully integrated approach takes advantage of high operating efficiencies and low capital costs to provide reliable and low-cost carbon-free energy.
The LPT 550 solar system is also designed to minimize the solar plant’s environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, LPT 550 uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed process.
Today, LPT 550 is employed at the company’s Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel’s Negev Desert. Operating over the past year, the SEDC is producing the world’s highest temperature turbine quality steam from solar energy.
BrightSource is the parent of Jerusalem, Israel-based BrightSource Industries Israel (BSII), formerly called Luz II. BSII performs R&D, production and project engineering for its California-based parent company.
BrightSource Seeking Partners in China and India
BrightSource is actively seeking partners in India and China as it looks to expand its reach outside the United States, Chief Executive John Woolard said yesterday, according to a report from Reuters.
Moving "slowly and deliberately," BrightSource could announce partners in those two nations a year from now, Woolard told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco.
"We are talking to various large companies over there," Woolard said. "Generally partners that are large, have engineering capabilities and can really deliver on plant construction and get things done."
Woolard's comments came on the same day that First Solar Inc, made the first major foray by a U.S. company into the fast growing Chinese alternative energy sector with plans to build the world's largest solar plant there.
"It shows a few things," Woolard said of the First Solar announcement. "One is that the Chinese are willing to think at a size and scale that is meaningful... and it also shows that the Chinese are ready and willing to look at real projects and real money."