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World’s biggest CSP plant connects to California grid

The largest solar thermal plant in the world has connected to the grid for the first time.

The first of three units of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System achieved the “first sync” which the project owners – NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy – called a major milestone that proves the viability of the technology.

The $2.2 billion concentrating solar power project is located in California and will power over 140,000 homes using large mirror-like heliostats that track the sun and create electricity using a steam generator.

Local utility PG&E has a power purchasing agreement for the electricity from units 1 and 3, whereas the power from unit 2 will be solar to Southern California Edison. Testing for units 2 and 3 will occur in the coming months.

Ivanpah First Sync. Credit: Business Wire

Ivanpah First Sync. Credit: Business Wire

“Given the magnitude and complexity of Ivanpah, it was very important that we successfully complete this milestone showing all systems were on track,” said Tom Doyle, President of NRG Solar.

“Ivanpah is the showcase project for BrightSource’s power tower technology and technical expertise. Validation at this scale demonstrates the viability of our technology as BrightSource increases focus on international markets and applications for concentrating solar power,” said David Ramm, Executive Chairman of BrightSource Energy.

“At Google we invest in renewable energy projects that have the potential to transform the energy landscape. Ivanpah is one of those projects,” said Rick Needham, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Google.

Once the 377 MW power plant is fully operational, it will almost double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy capacity in the United States.


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