BrightSource, Bechtel To Partner in California

BrightSource Energy, Inc., developer of large-scale solar thermal energy plants, announced today that it has selected global engineering and construction firm Bechtel, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System.

The two companies also announced that 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. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Under the terms of a series of EPC agreements, Bechtel will provide EPC services for the Ivanpah System–a 440-megawatt (MW) solar power facility consisting of three separate solar thermal power plants in southeastern California.

The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts established by BrightSource Energy with  Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). BrightSource’s contracts with PG&E and SCE total 2.6 gigawatts.

BrightSource estimates that the Ivanpah facility will result in approximately 1,000 solar jobs at the peak of construction, 86 permanent jobs,* and total economic benefits of $3 billion.

The Ivanpah facility is scheduled to begin construction in early 2010 following final permitting by the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management. In December 2008, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens for the largest ever solar-powered steam turbine generator for the first of the Ivanpah projects.

The Ivanpah facility will utilize BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550). The system produces electricity 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 thousands of mirrors called heliostats to re-flect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity.

The system is also designed to minimize the solar plant’s environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90% reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling, the company says. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed system.

Today the company’s LPT 550 solar system is employed at the Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel’s Negev Desert.

Since its founding in 1898, Bechtel has worked on more than 22,000 projects in 140 countries on all seven continents. Today, Bechtel’s 44,000 employees are teamed with customers, partners, and suppliers on hundreds of projects in nearly 50 countries.

Website: http://www.bechtel.com     
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