BrightSource Files To Build Second Concentrated Solar Power Plant In California

BrightSource Energy Inc. (Oakland, California, U.S.) has applied to the California Energy Commission (CEC) for permission to build a second large concentrating solar energy project utilizing a solar thermal power tower design.

The 500 MW Hidden Hills concentrated solar energy, has been proposed for 13.3 square kilometers of privately owned land in Inyo County, California, 72 kilometers west of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The proposed project will be comprised of two 270 MW Concentrating Solar Power plants. The CEC notes that the solar power tower technology for the HHSEGS system will utilize a taller receiver tower at 230 meters, which will allow for heliostat rows to be placed closer together, utilizing less land for equivalent power generation. The project will now undergo the CEC approval process, which includes an assessment of environmental impacts.

BrightSource will largely avoid the feds involvement by building on land leased from a private owner. The company also apparently hopes to sidestep disputes over the impact of its power plants on the imperiled desert tortoise, a controversy that has dogged the Ivanpah project. According to its license application for Hidden Hills, initial surveys found only two desert tortoises on the project site.

A traditional BrightSource’s LPT power tower solar thermal system uses a field of software-controlled mirrors called heliostats to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce high temperature and high pressure steam. The steam is used to turn a conventional steam turbine to produce electricity. In a BrightSource SolarPLUSTM plant, the steam is directed to a heat exchanger, where molten salts are further heated to a higher temperature, thus efficiently storing the heat energy for future use. Later, when the energy in storage is needed, the heat stored in the molten salts is used to generate steam to run the steam turbine.

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.