Energy Commission OK’s massive solar power plant

SACRAMENTO
September 22, 2010 9:00pm
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•  Mojave Desert plant will use solar thermal techniques

•  ‘This project presented us with significant environmental challenges’


The 370-Megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert has received the final approval it needs from the sdtate of California to begin construction.

But no earth will be moved until the federal Bureau of Land Management signs off it, since the plant is planned for BLM land.

Ivanpah is the fourth solar thermal power plant licensed by the Commission in the past month.

"This project presented us with significant environmental challenges," says Energy Commission member Jeffrey Byron. "However, the applicant's changes to the original proposal and the constructive input of a record number of participants mean the Ivanpah project will now produce renewable energy and provide needed economic activity to the region while minimizing the impact to the desert's natural environment."

The 370-megawatt project would be among the first commercial solar thermal power plants permitted on federal public land in the United States – the Bureau of Land Management approves the use of federal public lands. The BLM's action is scheduled for October.

BrightSource Energy Inc. of Oakland would develop three solar thermal power plants and shared facilities in the Mojave Desert west of Ivanpah Dry Lake and 4.5 miles southwest of Primm, Nev. The project would be located on 3,582 acres of public land managed by BLM. The project's footprint was reduced by 12 percent from 4,073 acres to 3,582 acres to lessen the impact to biological resources.

The project would be constructed in three phases: one 120-MW phase and two 125-MW phases and is based on distributed power tower and heliostat mirror technology, in which heliostat (mirror) fields focus solar energy on tower receivers near the center of each heliostat array to generate steam-driven electricity.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project is one of nine large solar thermal projects scheduled to go before the Commission before the end of the year. More than 4,300 megawatts of solar power will be added if all nine projects are approved. The nine projects would provide more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.

The three previously licensed plants are: the 250-MW Beacon Solar Energy Project (Aug. 25); the 250-MW Abengoa Mojave Solar Project (Sept. 8); and the 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Power Project (Sept. 15). Two projects, the 250-MW Genesis Solar Energy Project and the 709-MW Imperial Valley Solar Project, are scheduled for a vote at the Sept. 29 meeting. Three other projects (the 850-MW Calico Solar Project; the 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project; and the 150-MW Rice Solar Energy Project) are still under review.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded the vote to approve the construction of the plant.

“The construction of this renewable energy plant is great news for the environment and our economy, and I commend the developers and the California Energy Commission for working together to move this project forward while minimizing the impact on the desert environment,” says Mr. Schwarzenegger. “Today’s announcement serves as more evidence that solar and renewable power are creating jobs and are the future of the California economy.”


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