Banking on Southern California Sunshine

solarb_jpg_f4d956f31ef5f16b0eb867a7482184af1Earlier this month, Southern California Edison announced a deal with solar power plant maker BrightSource to install and operate solar power plants totaling 1300 megawatts in the deserts outside Los Angeles. The first of the seven solar thermal facilities covered by the deal would begin operation by 2013, if regulators approve the project and construction goes as planned.  

Southern California Edison, under increasing state pressure to ensure as much as 33% of the electricity it provides comes from renewable sources by the year 2020, is somewhat forced into entering into such agreements. This one, “the world’s largest solar deal” of 1300 megawatts would power nearly 845,000 homes, the utility company said. The facilities use a design often called a ‘power tower,’ in which thousands of small ground-mounted mirrors called heliostats reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop a tower to produce high temperature steam. 

nproyectos01_graficoSouthern California Edison (nyse: EIX – news people ) gets to showcase its commitment to clean power generation without spending a dime. Brightsource gets a provisional stamp of approval for its unique solar thermal technology.

“The PPA [Power Purchase Agreement] is the most significant risk mitigator for any investor,” says Brightsource spokesperson Keely Wachs. “We come with a significantly high-value contract with a stable, credit-worthy customer.”

The technology is not novel, though utilized on a smaller scale.  In Spain, the Solucar Platform from Abengoa Solar (documented on one of our earlier post, archived in Solar Energy) generates 24.3 GWh per year of clean energy, which is enough to supply 5,500 households.

nproyectos21This should hopefully be enough to speed up  project approval from the various government bodies, among which: the California’s Public Utilities Commission, the Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission.

Credits: Forbes, BrightSource, Photo: Courtesy of Edison International

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