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Ivanpah solar project gets $1.37 billion in loan guarantees from Dept. of Energy

February 22, 2010 |  2:54 pm

Ivanpah

The U.S. Department of Energy has conditionally committed to giving $1.37 billion in loan guarantees to a massive solar power facility in southeastern California, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Monday.

The 400-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will sit on federal land in the Mojave Desert near the Nevada border, and is being developed by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc. The loan guarantee is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Chu said.

The project consists of three solar thermal power plants, scheduled to begin construction in the second half of this year before wrapping up in 2013. The Ivanpah system, according to the Department of Energy, will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the country.

The facility will apply BrightSource’s Luz Power Tower 550 technology, which uses sunlight reflected off of thousands of tiny mirrors called heliostats to heat a water-filled boiler atop a tower. The steam created is piped to a turbine that creates electricity. Instead of using land grading techniques and concrete pads, the installation will involve mirrors on individual poles directly inserted into the ground.

Around 2/3 of the energy produced will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Co., while the rest will go to Southern California Edison. The project’s output will provide solar power to more than 140,000 California homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually.

The facility is expected to create 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction and result in 86 permanent jobs and more than $400 million in state and local tax revenue. Over its 30-year life, it should provide $650 million in wages.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A rendering of the heliostats. Credit: BrightSource

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