BrightSource Energy, a developer of large-scale solar thermal energy plants, has selected Bechtel as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for its Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System.
The two companies also announced that Bechtel Enterprises, the project development and financing arm of the Bechtel organisation, will become an equity investor in all of the Ivanpah solar power plants.
Under the terms of a series of EPC agreements, Bechtel will provide EPC services for the Ivanpah System – a 440MW solar power facility consisting of three separate solar thermal power plants in southeastern California.
The power generated from the solar plants will be sold under separate contracts established by BrightSource Energy with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).
BrightSource estimates that the Ivanpah facility will result in approximately 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction, and 86 permanent jobs. Once up and running, the plants will also displace more than 450,000 tons (408,000 metric tonnes) of CO2 annually.
Construction of the Ivanpah facility is scheduled to begin in early 2010 following approval by the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management.
The Ivanpah facility will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) 550 technology. The system produces electricity the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high-temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses thousands of heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high-temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine, which generates electricity.
The system is also designed to minimise the solar plant’s environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90 per cent reduction in water usage compared with conventional wet-cooling. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed system.
The company’s LPT 550 solar system has already been deployed at the Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel’s Negev Desert.