BrightSource wins solar power loan

The US Department of Energy has conditionally committed to provide $1.37bn (£890m) in loan guarantees to support the financing of solar power plant developer BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar electric generating system.

The Ivanpah project is California’s first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in nearly two decades.

When built, it will be the world’s largest solar-energy project, nearly doubling the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.

Located in south-east California, the 400MW solar-power facility consists of three separate solar thermal power plants.

The power generated from the plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase approximately one-third.

Construction of the Ivanpah project is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2010 following permits issued by the California Energy Commission and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

In September 2009, BrightSource selected Bechtel as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project.

Bechtel Enterprises, the project development and financing arm of the Bechtel organisation, has committed to become an equity investor in all of the Ivanpah solar power plants.

In December 2008, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens for the largest ever solar-powered steam-turbine generator, which will be used for the first of the three Ivanpah plants.