BrightSource Energy eyes second large concentrated solar thermal power plant

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a leading solar thermal technology company, has filed an Application for Certification (AFC) with the California Energy Commission for the development of two 250 megawatt (nominal) solar power plants (500 megawatts combined) in California’s Inyo County.

If approved, the Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) will use BrightSource’s next-generation plant design. This design takes advantage of economies of scale, further driving down the cost of energy while significantly reducing the project’s land use footprint. For utility-scale solar projects of similar capacity, the new configuration reduces land use by 33% or more compared to a typical photovoltaic (PV) farm and parabolic trough solar thermal plant.

"The Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System project underscores BrightSource’s commitment to developing environmentally responsible projects that deliver cost-effective and reliable clean energy at scale," said John Woolard, President and CEO, BrightSource Energy, Inc. "We’re thrilled to take this critical step forward and to support PG&E’s continued commitment to delivering on our state’s clean energy goals."

The proposed project site is located on 3,280 acres of privately-owned land in Inyo County, California, adjacent to the California / Nevada border. The site is located approximately 18 miles south of Pahrump, NV, and 45 miles west of Las Vegas, NV.

BrightSource will construct two separate 250 megawatt (nominal) solar thermal power plants, each with its own solar field and solar power tower. When complete, the two plants are expected to produce enough electricity to power 178,000 homes and avoid more than 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The proposed site is privately-owned and well-suited for a solar thermal power plant. It has excellent solar resources and access to existing, nearby high-voltage transmission lines. The land is predominately flat, and dry, and sparsely vegetated. Until recently, there were plans for a housing subdivision. The property has also been used in the past as an orchard.

The Hidden Hills SEGS concentrated solar energy project will create more than 1,000 construction jobs at the peak of construction and approximately 120 operations and maintenance jobs. Over the plant’s 25-year life, construction wages are expected to reach nearly $160 million, with total employee earnings estimated at nearly $390 million.

"The economic benefits that will be created by the Hidden Hills SEGS are significant, especially in the context of the economic challenges the region continues to face," said Jeremy Aguero, Principal Analyst for Applied Analysis, a business advisory services firm that conducted an analysis of the economic and fiscal impacts of the Hidden Hills SEGS. "After doing a detailed analysis of the HHSEGS, we expect the project to directly generate nearly 2,900 jobs related to onsite construction and the fabrication of materials over the two-year construction period, and contribute over $265 million in local and state taxes over the plant’s lifetime. These new jobs and extra tax revenue will likely have a noticeable impact on the surrounding communities."

Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States and Israel. BrightSource Energy, Inc. designs, develops and sells solar thermal power systems that deliver reliable clean energy to utilities and industrial companies. The company has contracted to sell approximately 2.6 gigawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology.