Brightsource Energy Proposes Reduced Footprint Desert Solar Project

BrightSource is currently developing its first solar power complex in California’s Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will be located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, and about five miles from the California-Nevada border. The complex will generate enough electricity to power more than 140,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year.

The approximately 400 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will consist of three separate plants and provide electricity to PG&E and Southern California Edison. Commencement of construction on the first plant is scheduled for the second half of 2010, following permitting review by the California Energy Commission and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The first plant is scheduled to come online in mid-2012.

Project Overview

* A 400-megawatt solar complex using mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers.
* The complex is comprised of three separate plants to be built in phases between 2010 and 2013, and will use BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower (LPT) technology.
* The electricity generated by all three plants is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day.
* Located approximately 4.5 miles southwest of Primm, Nevada, in the desert on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
* When constructed, Ivanpah will be the first large-scale solar thermal project built in California in nearly two decades and the largest in the world.
* The Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.
* Avoids 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year; the equivalent of removing 70,000 cars off the road annually.
* Employs a closed-loop dry-cooling technology, which reduces water use by 90 percent. Will use 100 acre feet per year, the equivalent of 300 homes’ annual water usage; and nearly 25 times less water than competing technologies.
* Cuts major air pollutants by 85% compared to new natural gas-fired power plants.
* Technology places individual mirrors onto metal poles that are driven into the ground, reducing the need for extensive land grading and using far fewer concrete pads than other technologies.

The Ivanpah project will provide power under a 1,300 megawatt contract for Southern California Edison and a 1,310 megawatt contract with Pacific Gas and Electric company. When completed, the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the US today.

BrightSource has partnered with Bechtel, the world’s premier engineering, construction and project management firm, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System. In addition, Bechtel Enterprises, the project development and financing arm of the Bechtel organization, will become an equity investor in all of the Ivanpah solar power plants.

In December 2008, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens for the largest ever solar-powered steam turbine generator for the Ivanpah project.

BrightSource Energy, Inc., developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, has submitted an alternative design for the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS or Ivanpah) project. This mitigation proposal, filed today with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), would reduce the project’s footprint and significantly minimize its potential environmental impacts.

The alternative mitigation proposal marks a key milestone in Ivanpah’s permitting process and brings the project a step closer to being California’s first solar thermal power plant permitted and constructed in California in nearly two decades.

“We’re constantly evaluating ways to minimize the environmental impact of our solar power plants, and the permitting process and its public comment period provided us with many thoughtful suggestions,” said Steve DeYoung, Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety for BrightSource Energy. “Our technology has always led the industry in significantly reducing water use and minimizing impact on habitat and the land. With this proposed alternative design, we are further avoiding the habitat of rare plants and other species, and setting another great precedent for projects that follow.”

“It’s clear from this proposal that BrightSource really listened to the comments made during the permitting process,” said George Frampton, former Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and former Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior. “This project is a key step in meeting our nation’s climate and clean energy goals, and proves that we can address global warming with utility-scale solar while protecting sensitive desert lands and habitat.”

“By responding to the last major concerns of environmental groups, BrightSource has taken a major step toward realizing President Obama’s vision of rebuilding the economy with clean energy projects. The new alternative reduces impacts on the desert environment so that we can have clean solar energy, 1,000 good new construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the California economy,” said Marc Joseph, representative of CURE (California Unions for Reliable Energy).

The mitigation proposal for the Ivanpah project is a direct response to comments and suggestions made during the Ivanpah permitting process’ public comment period. If accepted by the CEC and BLM, the alternative design would:
• Reduce the footprint of the third Ivanpah plant by 23 percent, avoiding the area identified by environmental groups during the public comment period as posing the greatest concern.
• Reduce the footprint of the overall Ivanpah project by about 12 percent
• Reduce expected desert tortoise relocations by approximately 15 percent (based on previous protocol surveys of the project site; the actual number will depend on where tortoises are at the time they are relocated)
• Avoid the area identified as having the highest rare plant density
• Reduce the number of towers at the third Ivanpah plant from five to one; reduce overall number of towers at the Ivanpah project from seven to three
• Reduce the potential maximum number of heliostats by about 40,000
• Avoid the area that would have required the most grading and large rock removal in the solar fields
• Leave the largest natural stormwater features (washes) in the northern portion of the site intact
• Reduce the total gross capacity of the Ivanpah project from 440 megawatts to 392megawatts

The Ivanpah project, located in southeastern California, will consist of three separate solar thermal power plants. When constructed, the project will produce enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes and nearly double the amount of solar thermal energy produced in the U.S. today.

The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase approximately one-third. In all, BrightSource has contracted with PG&E and SCE to deliver more than 2,600 megawatts of electric power.

The Ivanpah project has been identified as a “fast-track” priority by the U.S. Department of Interior for obtaining federal stimulus benefits for California under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project has also been selected as one of sixteen short-listed applicants to receive a loan guarantee under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 1703 program.

The Ivanpah project is scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2010 following issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Ivanpah: Creating Union Jobs

BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that construction of the Ivanpah project will require approximately four million job hours of work and 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction, and provide 86 permanent jobs. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California’s local workforce benefits from the project. The project will also provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life.

Ivanpah: Low-impact Design and Technology

The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. The project is also designed to minimize the solar plant’s environmental impact. By mounting mirrors on individual poles that are directly placed into the ground, the solar field will avoid areas of sensitive plant species and be built around the natural contours of the land. This reduces the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads employed by other competing solar technologies, and allows much of the site vegetation to be trimmed and left in place rather than removed.

In order to conserve precious desert water, the Ivanpah project will employ an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using dry-cooling, the project will use only 100 acre feet of water per year; significantly less than the adjacent golf course and 25 times less water than competing solar thermal technologies that use wet-cooling.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. provides clean, reliable and low cost solar energy for utility and industrial companies worldwide. The BrightSource Energy team combines nearly three decades of experience designing, building and operating the world’s largest solar energy plants with world-class project development capabilities. The company now has contracted to sell more than 2.6 gigawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology. BrightSource Energy’s solar plants are designed to minimize their impact on the environment and help customers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States, Israel, and Australia.