U.S. Department of Energy

    California Approves Contract for 500-Megawatt Solar Facility

    November 9, 2005

    A photo of a field of dish Stirling systems, each composed of nearly 100 mirrored squares combined into a dish shape and mounted on a pillar, reflecting the sky and clouds.
An arm of metal gridwork extends from the center of each mirror and holds the Stirling engine, a dark metal cylinder.

    The new solar facility will consist of a field of solar dishes.
    Credit: Randy J. Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories

    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced its approval in late October of a contract for Southern California Edison to buy power from a large solar thermal plant. Southern California Edison (SCE) and Stirling Energy Systems signed a 20-year power purchase agreement on August 9th that calls for a 4,500-acre solar generating station to be built 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles. According to the CPUC, the solar power plant would start power production in January 2009, but would not reach its planned 500-megawatt capacity until December 2012. The plant could eventually be expanded to a capacity of 850 megawatts. It will consist of large sun-tracking solar dishes, which will use Stirling engines to convert the sun's heat into electricity. See the CPUC press release.

    Meanwhile, Solargenix Energy earned approval in late September to proceed with a 64-megawatt solar thermal plant near Boulder City, Nevada. Called Nevada Solar One, the facility will be the largest solar electric power plant built in the past 14 years and the third largest solar power plant in the world. The plant will use a series of trough-shaped solar mirrors to heat a liquid that is passed through glass tubes called "receivers," which are located along the line of focus for the mirrors. The hot liquid then boils water into steam to turn a turbine, generating power. DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) worked with Solargenix to perfect its solar collectors, and in early October, Schott North America received an order to supply the receivers for the plant. Nevada Solar One is scheduled to begin producing power in early 2007. See the press releases from Solargenix, Schott, and NREL.