California Gives Go Ahead for Massive BrightSource Solar Plant

Published by: Frank Galvano on 8th Oct 2010 | View all blogs by Frank Galvano

California Gives Go Ahead for Massive BrightSource Solar Plant

BrightSource Energy Inc. on Thursday announced it had received final approval to construct a $1.7 billion-plus, 370 megawatt solar energy plant in Southern California, the latest in a string of large scale projects to receive the green light in the nation's most populous state.

The approval the company received Thursday allows the company to begin construction on the plant, which company officials say will begin producing energy at the end of 2012. The plant will be built in Ivanpah, near the Nevada border, and will employ solar thermal technology to produce electricity.

Planning for the project has been ongoing for years, picking up in the last year as President Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have both declared the development of clean energy sources as a high priority. California last month raised its target of renewable energy to 33 percent by the year 2020.

Besides the obvious benefit for the environment, the BrightSource project will create jobs during a rough stretch for the state's economy. BrightSource officials say that the lead engineering contractor for the project, Bechtel Corp. will hire about 1,000 workers during the plant's peak construction times.

The Ivanpah plant will cost more than $1.7 billion to build, which breaks down to just over $4,600 per kilowatt. By comparison, a traditional combined-cycle natural gas plant costs about $900 per kilowatt to build and an onshore wind turbine plant costs about $1,800 per kilowatt. California has approved the construction of a number of large-scale solar energy plants in recent weeks, including a 1,000 megawatt plant in Blythe, California that will be built by Chevron Corp. in conjunction with Solar Millenium AG.
 

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