Thursday, February 13, 2014

California Ivanpah Solar Tower Power Electricity Plant



The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, a giant solar-power project officially opening this week in the California desert, is the first of its kind.  U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is scheduled to speak today [comments] at an opening ceremony for the project that received a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee.  The $2.2 billion solar farm, which spans over five square miles of federal land southwest of Las Vegas, includes three towers as tall as 40-story buildings. Nearly 350,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect sunlight onto boilers atop the towers, creating steam that drives power generators.

The owners of the project— NRG Energy and BrightSource Energy Inc., the company that developed the "tower power" solar technology—call the plant a major feat of engineering that can light up about 140,000 homes a year.

Temperatures around the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System's towers can hit 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  Ivanpah is among the biggest in a spate of power-plant-sized solar projects that have begun operating in the past two years, spurred in part by a hefty investment tax credit that expires at the end of 2016. Most of them are in California, where state law requires utilities to use renewable sources for a third of the electricity they sell by 2020.
 
Utilities owned by PG&E Corp. and Edison International have agreed to buy electricity generated from the Ivanpah plant under 25-year contracts, according to NRG.
 
New utility-scale projects began operating at a record rate in the fourth quarter of 2013, adding 1,141 megawatts of capacity, according to research firm SNL Energy. But only a handful of new projects were announced, totaling 13 megawatts. Mirrors reflect sunlight on to boilers atop the Ivanpah facility's towers to create steam for generating power.                    
 
Facts about the Ivanpah project
  • $2.2 BILLION Cost of power plant's construction
  • 3,500 Acres covered by the plant, about five square miles
  • 459 FEET Height of each of three towers, which are topped by boilers
  • 347,000 Number of garage door-size mirrors that are used to reflect sunlight
  • 140,000 Homes per year for which the plant is expected to generate electricity
The company put plans for a third California solar farm on indefinite hold last year, and it abandoned a proposed fourth project for which it had sought state approval in 2011.
 
The Ivanpah plant draws water for the boilers atop its towers, and for washing its many thousands of mirrors, from underground wells at the site. The water will be recycled; an on-site treatment plant will filter out wastewater sludge, which a waste hauler will remove and dispose of, according to the company. (WSJ, 2/12/2014)

3 comments:

Tomasco said...

Gosh, do birds like 1000 degree heat any better than they like giant wind turbine blades?

Angela Navejas said...

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Compare Electric said...

When you stop wasting energy and go solar, you are hedging yourself against the whims of the utilities and their ever-increasing rates.electricity rates in houston