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BrightSource breaks ground on 370MW Ivanpah CSP project

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04 June 2012

On October 27, 2010, officials from BrightSource Energy Inc. (Oakland, California, U.S.) and project partners were joined by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a ceremony to commence construction on the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System, a 370MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in California's Mojave Desert. Also on October 27, 2010, NRG Energy Inc. (Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.) announced that it will invest USD$300 million in the project over three years, securing the largest stake among project partners. Developers expect to complete the project's three plants by mid-2013. "Today we are breaking ground on the largest solar project in the world, right here in California," said California Governor Schwarzenegger. "The construction of this renewable energy plant is great news for our state, and further proof that it is possible to both protect the environment and grow the economy. Projects like this one are helping us meet our long-term energy and environmental goals, while creating jobs and moving us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future - a future where California leads the nation and the world in a clean energy revolution."

The Ivanpah project is composed of three separate solar power tower plants, which will be located 80 kilometers northwest of Needles, California. In each plant, fields of large mirrors (heliostats) reflect sunlight onto a receiver in a central tower, where water vapor is heated to driver turbines. The plant uses a dry-cooling system, which BrightSource says uses 95% less water than CSP projects using wet-cooled designs.

Bechtel Corporation (San Francisco, California) is an engineering and construction partner in the project and will physically construct the plants, and NRG Energy will join Ivanpah in ownership, construction and operation of the plants. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E, San Francisco, California, U.S.) and Southern California Edison (Rosemead, California, U.S.) through multiple power purchase agreements lasting 20-25 years. In February 2010 BrightSource received conditional commitments for USD$1.37 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project.

BrightSource estimates that the plant will create 1,000 construction jobs during the peak of construction, and Bechtel has signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The company says that the project will provide USD$300 million in local and state taxes and USD$650 million in wages over the first 30 years of operation.


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