U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
San Diego Signs Up for 300 Megawatts of Solar Thermal Power
September 14, 2005
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) announced on September 7th that it has
signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Stirling Energy Systems
for 300 megawatts of solar power, to be generated by Stirling solar
dishes in a three-square-mile array in California's Imperial Valley.
The installation, to be called "SES Solar 2," will require new
transmission lines to carry the power to SDG&E customers. SDG&E also
has options for another 600 megawatts of solar thermal power that
could be built in two future phases of the solar power project. See
the SDG&E press release.
Stirling solar dish technology converts solar thermal energy to
electricity by using a dish-shaped array of mirrors to focus the sun's
rays on the receiver end of a Stirling engine. The internal side of
the receiver then heats hydrogen gas, causing it to expand. The
expanding gas creates pressure that drives a piston, which turns a
small electricity generator. To learn more about the technology, see
the SunLab Web site.
The announcement is the second in as many months for Stirling Energy
Systems, which could quickly become the leading source of solar power
in the United States. In early August, Southern California Edison
signed a similar agreement with the company for 500 megawatts of solar
power, with an option to expand the project to 850 megawatts. See the
article from the August 17th edition of this newsletter.