California commission plans workshop on reworked Palen solar project

The California Energy Commission staff will hold an April 17 workshop on a change in generating technology for the proposed Palen Solar Electric Generating System.

The workshop is being held to allow commission staff, the applicant, intervenors, interested agencies, and the public to discuss technical issues that include: biological resources; soil and water resources; traffic and transportation; transmission system engineering; and visual resources. Solar flux will be discussed at a separate workshop.

In December 2010, the commission approved the 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project, which would use parabolic trough technology. In December 2012, the new owners of the project filed an amendment with the commission requesting to change the technology from parabolic trough to solar power tower.

The applicant for the amended project, now called the Palen Solar Electric Generating System, is Palen Solar Holdings LLC, a joint venture of BrightSource Energy and Abengoa, the commission noted in an April 11 statement.

The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar plants, with each plant having about 85,000 heliostats for a total of 170,000 heliostats. Heliostats are elevated mirrors used to focus the sun’s rays on a solar receiver which produces steam to generate electricity. The solar receiver would be located on top of a 750-foot tall power tower near the center of each solar field.

The project site is located about 10 miles east of Desert Center, halfway between Indio and Blythe, in eastern Riverside County. The applicant is seeking a right-of-way grant for about 5,200 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. In addition to the technology change, the amended project was reconfigured to 3,794 acres, a smaller footprint than either of the two alternative configurations approved in the original commission decision.

If the commission approves the Palen amendment, construction would start the fourth quarter of 2013 with commercial operation in June 2016. The estimated capital cost for the project would be $2bn.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.