World’s Largest Solar Thermal Plant Gears Up
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System produced its first output of energy when the Unit 1 station was synced to the power grid for the first time, says NRG Solar.
Located in California’s Mojave Desert, Ivanpah is the largest solar thermal plant in the world, spanning 3,500 acres of public land. Once fully operational, the 392 MW plant with three power tower units will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy capacity now operating in the United States.
This successful test demonstrated that the station’s power tower technology works. The technology includes large heliostats that track the sun throughout the day, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator.
Power generated from Ivanpah’s initial sync testing will go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which has a power purchase agreement for energy produced out of the plant’s Unit 1 station. Power generated from Ivanpah’s Unit 3 station is also sold under a PPA with PG&E, while Unit 2 is under a PPA with Southern California Edison. Proof-of-concept testing will also be conducted at Unit 2 and 3 in the coming months.
Other Ivanpah project partners include BrightSource and Google, as well as Bechtel, which is responsible for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning on the project.
Ivanpah is the showcase project for BrightSource’s power tower technology as BrightSource increases focus on international markets and applications for concentrating solar power.
“At Google, we invest in renewable energy projects that have the potential to transform the energy landscape. Ivanpah is one of those projects,” said Rick Needham, director of energy and sustainability at Google.
Google, which has a goal to power its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy, recently announced it has agreed to purchase the entire output of the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas.
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