Brightsource Energy to design South African concentrated solar power plant

BrightSource in pole position for Sasol South Africa CSP project. BrightSource Energy’s Power Tower Technology Selected by Sasol for South African Concentrated Solar Power Plant Design.

Leading global energy and chemicals company completing a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study for utility-scale concentrating solar thermal power plant using BrightSource technology.

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a leading solar thermal technology company, today announced that Sasol has selected BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology following a worldwide review of solar technologies. Under the agreement, BrightSource and its partner Alstom, global leader in power generation equipment, will conduct a comprehensive front-end engineering and design (FEED) study for the South Africa market.

“Sasol’s selection of BrightSource’s technology represents a significant milestone as we expand our high-efficiency solar thermal power systems globally”

The FEED study is a critical step in the design and deployment of a solar thermal power plant. Sasol will use the information from the study to determine how best to deploy BrightSource’s technology in the markets it serves.

”Sasol looks forward to the completion of the FEED study by one of the world’s leading concentrated solar power (CSP) technology providers. South Africa is blessed with an abundance of a natural energy source in the form of sunlight. This CSP project has the potential of significantly expanding Sasol’s new energy portfolio and will in turn contribute to the country’s transition to a low carbon economy”, said Henri Loubser, Managing Director of Sasol New Energy.

To meet its growing clean power demand, South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program, run by the country’s Department of Energy, is targeting the addition of an initial 3,725 megawatts of renewable energy by 2016. With one of the fastest growing economies in the world, total energy supplies in South Africa are projected to more than double over the next 20 years to more than 85 gigawatts, including the planned development of 18 gigawatts of new renewable energy, according to the integrated resource plan recently adopted by the government.

“Sasol’s selection of BrightSource’s technology represents a significant milestone as we expand our high-efficiency solar thermal power systems globally,” said John Woolard, President and CEO of BrightSource Energy. “Today, South Africa meets more than 85 percent of its power needs with coal. With great solar resources and a need for firm and reliable power to meet its growing industrial power needs, South Africa represents an ideal market for BrightSource’s solar thermal technology. Sasol is a leader in energy innovation and a natural partner as we help South Africa meet its growing demand for clean, cost-effective and reliable power.”

BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology generates power the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses the sun’s energy. BrightSource’s system uses a state-of-the-art field of software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce the high temperature and high pressure steam. The steam can then be integrated with conventional power plant components to produce predictable, reliable and cost-competitive clean energy. Alstom’s expertise in steam turbine technology and integrated plant solutions, together with BrightSource’s solar technology offer highly efficient solar thermal power plants.

Today, BrightSource’s technology is designed to produce the world’s highest temperature and pressure solar steam in the world. The company recently started operations at its Solar-to-Steam facility built for Chevron in Coalinga California. The company’s technology is being deployed at Ivanpah, the largest solar thermal plant under construction in the world and scheduled for start up in 2013.

BrightSource’s system is also designed to minimize impacts on the natural environment. In addition to being one of the most land-efficient renewable energy technologies, BrightSource’s low impact heliostat layout is flexible, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation. And in order to conserve scarce water resources, the technology employs an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using air-cooling, BrightSource’s technology uses more than 90 percent less water than older technology parabolic trough plants with wet cooling.

Solar thermal power plants have also shown to be great creators of economic benefits in the regions where they are built. A recent study of the Spanish concentrating solar power market by Deloitte found that compared to other power generation sources, solar thermal plants are a strong generator of local jobs, during construction, and operation and maintenance, due largely to the plant’s high percentage of domestically-sourced componentsi. Another study by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab found that a 100 megawatt solar thermal plant creates more than $600 million in impact to gross state output, ten times that of a combined cycle fossil plantii due to the local content and job creation of a solar thermal plant.

Sasol is an energy and chemicals business. Based in South Africa and operating worldwide, Sasol is listed on the NYSE and JSE stock exchanges. Sasol is a leading provider of liquid fuels in South Africa and a major international producer of chemicals. Using proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technologies Sasol produces synthetic fuels and chemicals from low-grade coal and natural gas.

The company also manufactures more than 200 fuel and chemical products that are sold worldwide. In South Africa, Sasol also operates coal mines to provide feedstock for the synthetic fuels plants. Sasol operates the only inland crude oil refinery in South Africa. The group produces crude oil in offshore Gabon, supplies Mozambican natural gas to end-user customers and petrochemical plants in South Africa, and with partners involved in gas-to-liquids fuel joint ventures in Qatar and Nigeria.

BrightSource is a leader in the design, development and deployment of concentrating solar thermal technology that produces high-value electricity and steam for power, petroleum and industrial-process markets worldwide.