DOE Announces Nearly $1.4 billion in Conditional Loan Guarantees for BrightSource Energy

March 08, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced conditional commitments for more than $1.37 billion in loan guarantees under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to BrightSource Energy, Inc. to support the construction and start-up of three utility-scale concentrated solar power plants. The new plants will generate approximately 400MW of electricity using the company’s proprietary technology. This would nearly double the existing generation capacity of this type of renewable energy in the U.S.

The three-plant Ivanpah Solar Complex will be located on federally-owned land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, near the Nevada border, and will be the world’s largest operational concentrated solar power complex. Once operational, the project will supply clean electric power to approximately 140,000 California homes.

BrightSource estimates that the construction of this complex will employ approximately 1,000 people, and its operation will create 86 permanent jobs. BrightSource’s construction contractor has entered into project labor agreements with various trade unions for the construction of the project.

BrightSource’s technology will use thousands of "heliostats" on three solar fields. Each heliostat has two mirrors that track the sun in two dimensions, allowing the capture of a greater percentage of solar energy than other solar thermal technologies.

The first plant is expected to begin construction in the second half of 2010 and come on line in 2012. Commercial operation for the second plant is slated for mid-2013 and the third later in 2013. Electricity from the project will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison Company (SCE). The project will be interconnected to the electricity grid via an upgraded SCE transmission line.