NRG Energy To Develop Up To 500MW Of Solar Thermal Power Plants Using eSolar Technology

March 02, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

NRG Energy, Inc. has signed an agreement with eSolar, a leading provider of modular, scalable solar thermal power technology to develop solar power plants with a total generation capacity of up to 500MW at sites in California and the Southwestern United States. When at peak capacity, these units can power more than 400,000 homes with 100% clean solar electricity. The first plant is anticipated to begin producing electricity as early as 2011.

At closing, NRG will invest approximately $10 million for equity and associated development rights for three projects on sites in south central California and the Southwest US and a portfolio of PPAs to develop, build, own and operate up to 11 eSolar modular solar generating units at these sites. These development assets will use eSolar’s concentrating solar power (CSP) technology to sell renewable electricity under contracted power purchase agreements (PPAs) with local utilities seeking competitively priced, zero-carbon solar power.

"This is NRG’s first venture into solar power and it brings an exceptionally important component to the low- and no-carbon focus of our RepoweringNRG program," said Michael Liebelson, Chief Development Officer Low Carbon Technology for NRG Energy. "By coupling NRG’s construction capabilities and regional operating expertise with eSolar’s innovative CSP technology, we can advance NRG’s renewable energy portfolio while helping to accelerate development of these important projects on a commercial scale."

eSolar is currently completing its first commercial demonstration CSP plant in Southern California. It is claimed that the facility will be the first fully functioning solar thermal power tower plant built in the United States. NRG states that, in building this first plant, eSolar is obtaining valuable design, construction and operational insights to provide NRG the foundation for the implementation of commercial scale facilities.

"eSolar’s breakthrough modular power plants use more software and less steel to allow solar energy to be competitive with fossil fuels for the first time ever," said Bill Gross, CEO of eSolar. "NRG Energy’s extensive project skills and focus on advancing a diverse portfolio of energy generation technology will help accelerate the deployment of eSolar’s CSP technology in locations across the US."