BrightSource Energy Inc., a leading solar thermal technology company, has added its SolarPLUS thermal energy storage capability to three of its power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Southern California Edison (SCE).
By adding storage to its solar thermal power plants, BrightSource says it is able to further reduce the total cost of energy by increasing its capacity factor and extending the production of electricity into later parts of the day, when it is most needed by utilities.
The new set of contracts (if approved by the California Public Utilities Commission) now consist of two BrightSource solar thermal plants scheduled to deliver electricity in 2015 and three BrightSource plants with energy storage scheduled to deliver electricity in 2016 and 2017. In addition, BrightSource and its partners – NRG Energy, Google and Bechtel – are currently constructing a 126 MW plant for SCE at the Ivanpah solar project in southeast California.
Under the original PPAs with Southern California Edison, BrightSource would have provided approximately 4,000 GWh of electricity annually across seven power plants.
Due to higher efficiencies and capacity factors associated with energy storage, the new set of agreements will provide approximately the same amount of energy annually but with one less plant. This will reduce the land impacts of delivering this energy and avoid transactional costs that ultimately impact California's ratepayers, BrightSource says.