World’s Largest Solar Energy Plant To Tie Into California Grid Tomorrow

(September 20) The largest solar project ever built, located in the northeast corner of San Bernardino County, will hook up to the power grid this weekend. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, located fifty miles northwest of Needles and about five miles from the Nevada border, should begin supplying electricity to domestic users by the end of the year.
Utilizing BrightSource’s LPT solar thermal system consisting of 170,000 heliostats – mirrors that track the sun and focus the captured thermal energy onto a  450-foot tall tower  – the plant uses that heat to achieve a temperature of 1,000 degrees in a condenser that boils water, creating steam to power a turbine that generates electricity.
The facility will provide power to meet the needs of 140,000 California homes and will be sent via the grid as far as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Among the investors in the project are NRG Solar, Google and BrightSource. Bechtel was the contractor on the project.
The land upon which the project was built is being leased from the federal government. It is a habitat of the endangered desert tortoise, a protected species. The $2.2 billion project’s proponents utilized $22 million to hire biologists, purchase conservation land for the tortoises elsewhere, incorporate protective measures for the reptiles and relocate about 200 of the tortoises captured on the property into pens.
The project was backed by a $1.6 billion federal loan. Sale arrangements for the electricity have already been made with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric. The project will assist those companies in meeting a state mandate that one third of California’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

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