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World’s largest solar thermal plant on line

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest solar thermal plant, has produced its first output of energy with its Unit 1 station synchronized to the power grid for the first time.

The station’s power tower 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 (PPA) 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.

The project, which is located in California’s Mojave Desert, is jointly-owned by NRG Energy Inc, BrightSource Energy Inc and Google.

“Given the magnitude and complexity of Ivanpah, it was very important that we successfully complete this milestone showing all systems were on track,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar. “We couldn’t be more excited about achieving ‘first sync,’ and we share this success with our project partners, BrightSource and Google, as well as Bechtel, which is responsible for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning on the project.”

“This is yet another major milestone that we have successfully achieved as Ivanpah approaches completion,” said David Ramm, executive chairman of BrightSource Energy. “Ivanpah is the showcase project for BrightSource’s power tower technology and technical expertise. Validation at this scale demonstrates the viability of our technology as BrightSource increases focus on international markets and applications for concentrating solar power.”

Ivanpah spans 3,500 acres of public land. Once fully operational, the 392 megawatt (377 megawatt net) plant will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes annually. Its three power tower units will also nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy capacity now operating in the United States.

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Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling

 

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