Controversy loomed over coyote land, but now BrightSource with a US Gov guarantee will create largest solar energy project in the world, in Ivanpah CA.
BrightSource Energy, a privately held company with operations in the United States, Israel, and Australia, announced today that the US Department of Energy has conditionally committed to provide $1.37 billion in loan guarantees to support the financing of BrightSource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. BrightSource, recently financed by PG&E, is a developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants,
The commitment to provide loan guarantees marks a key milestone in the development of the Ivanpah project, California’s first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in nearly two decades. When constructed, Ivanpah will be the world’s largest solar energy project, nearly doubling the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.
“This clean-energy investment will help create up to 1,000 construction jobs in California,” said California Senator Barbara Boxer.
“As home to some of the world’s best solar fields and the nation’s largest green economy, it is no surprise the world’s largest solar energy project would choose California,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Our ambitious environmental policies are promoting the growth of clean, reliable energy in our communities and growing green jobs up and down the state. And, it is projects like this one that will help us meet our long-term energy and climate change goals while creating jobs and moving us towards a cleaner more sustainable future,” he added.
According to a press release issued by BrightSource, the loan guarantee is made possible by the Department of Energy’s Title XVII loan guarantee program, which was started in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act to support commercially proven technology in addition to innovative renewable energy technology.
Under Section 1703 of the program, the Department of Energy issues a conditional commitment to guarantee loans to be provided by the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank. Execution of the final loan guarantees is subject to the satisfaction of various conditions specified in the conditional commitment.
“The loan guarantee commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy serves as a tremendous validation of our technology, the BrightSource team’s ability to execute, and the Ivanpah project’s role in meeting our nation’s large-scale renewable energy needs,” said John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy.
“We’re truly humbled by the opportunity to help build our nation’s green energy economy by creating good jobs for local communities. We look forward to beginning construction on the Ivanpah project, making a real and substantive impact on climate change, and creating a model for environmentally-responsible energy projects.”
The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. The project is also designed in an environmentally responsible manner.
Instead of the extensive land grading and concrete pads employed by other competing solar technologies, BrightSource mounts mirrors on individual poles that are placed directly into the ground, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive plant species.
In order to conserve precious desert water, the Ivanpah project will employ an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using dry-cooling, the project will use only 100 acre feet of water per year; less than ten percent of the water used by the adjacent golf course and 25 times less water than competing solar thermal technologies that use wet-cooling.
The Ivanpah project is scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2010 following issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The project has also been identified as a “fast-track” priority by the U.S. Department of Interior for obtaining federal stimulus benefits for California under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.