Ivanpah solar thermal project reaches half-way mark

Th Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah SEGS) has reached the halfway mark of construction on the world’s largest solar thermal project. The $2.2bn project is on-track to be complete in 2013.

“Ivanpah is an iconic infrastructure project that will set the course for the future of renewable energy in the US and around the world,” said John Woolard, President and CEO, BrightSource Energy. “We are tremendously proud of the significant accomplishments being made towards Ivanpah’s completion, and look forward to powering California’s homes and businesses with clean and reliable electricity in the coming year.”

The 370-MW Ivanpah solar power facility is located on approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in California’s Mojave Desert managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior‘s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). When completed in 2013, the facility will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S.

NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), Google, BrightSource Energy and construction partner Bechtel (NYSE: FOR) are the major stakeholders in the project, which has reached its peak construction workforce, with more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on-site. The three-unit Ivanpah SEGS commenced construction in October 2010.

Power generated from the units will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCE) and Southern California Edison (SCE). The first unit will begin supplying power to PG&E in mid 2013, with units two and three delivering power to Southern California and PG&E respectively by late of 2013.

Ivanpah will employ BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology. The system uses a field of software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce the high temperature and high-pressure steam. The steam can then be integrated with conventional power plant components.

Ivanpah was awarded a $1.6bn loan guarantee in the U.S. Department of Energy’s controversial 1703 program.

The developers say the project will provide $400m in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650m in wages, over its first 30 years of life. The majority of the project’s supply chain is being sourced domestically across 17 U.S. states.