NRG Energy Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary NRG Solar LLC, has announced that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now fully operational, with all three of its tower units delivering solar electricity to California customers.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System in a ceremony on Feb. 13.
‘The Ivanpah project is a shining example of how America is becoming a world leader in solar energy,’ Moniz says, in a statement." As the president made clear in the State of the Union, we must continue to move toward a cleaner energy economy, and this project shows that building a clean energy economy creates jobs, curbs greenhouse gas emissions, and fosters American innovation.’
The project was developed jointly NRG and BrightSource Energy, with Google providing a major investment. Bechtel served as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor.
According to NRG, the Ivanpah project, which began grid tests in September, accounts for nearly 30% of all solar thermal energy currently operational in the U.S. and is the largest solar project of its kind in the world. Construction on the project began in October 2010.
At full capacity, the facility's trio of 450-foot high towers produces a gross total of 392 MW of solar power. The solar energy harnessed from Ivanpah's Units 1 and 3 are being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under two long-term power purchase agreements, while the electricity from Unit 2 is being sold to Southern California Edison under a similar contract.
‘This is an exciting culmination of many years of hard work by all of our partners at Ivanpah,’ says David Ramm, chairman and CEO of BrightSource Energy. ‘The completion of this world-class project is a watershed moment for solar thermal energy.’
As the first commercial deployment of power tower CSP technology in the U.S., the Ivanpah project was the recipient of a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO). Ivanpah is one of five CSP projects that received loan guarantees from the LPO. The DOE says that when these projects are completed, they will provide a combined 1.26 GW of solar capacity.
‘This project was made possible by the successful public-private partnership between the Department of Energy and the project sponsors,’ says Peter Davidson, LPO executive director, in a statement. ‘Through partnerships like this, we can continue to build an innovative clean energy economy in the U.S.’