Abengoa, BrightSource Energy To Build 500 MW Of Solar Towers In California


Abengoa and BrightSource Energy have signed an agreement to jointly develop, build and operate what the companies say are the world's two largest solar towers.

As joint partners, Abengoa and BrightSource will work together to permit and finance the 500 MW Palen Solar Electric Generating System. The Palen project consists of two 250 MW units located in Riverside County, Calif., in an area designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a solar energy zone.

As the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Abengoa will build the plants and lead the operation and maintenance of the plants once they are online. BrightSource will provide the solar field technology and plant design.

Each unit will feature a 750-foot-tall solar tower that allows for a high concentration of heliostats. The design features mirrors on individual poles placed directly into the ground without concrete foundations, thus allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land, retain native vegetation under the mirrors and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation, the companies explain.

The Palen site has already received authorization from the California Energy Commission. In December 2012, BrightSource filed an amendment to the existing permit, seeking authorization to deploy solar power tower technology.

Permitting and development of the projects is under way, and construction is scheduled to begin at the end of this year. The solar plants are expected to come online in 2016.

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