All three units of the 392-MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System are now delivering solar power to California’s electric grid.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is now operational and delivering solar electricity to California customers. At full capacity, the facility’s trio of 450-foot-high towers produces a gross total of 392 MW of solar power, enough electricity to provide 140,000 California homes with clean energy and avoid 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing 72,000 vehicles off the road.
Ivanpah is a joint effort between NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy. Bechtel is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor on the project. The project received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. The facility achieved commercial operation on Dec. 31, 2013. NRG will be the plant’s operator.
Ivanpah, which accounts for nearly 30% of all solar thermal energy currently operational in the United States, is the largest solar project of its kind in the world. The project is the first to use BrightSource’s innovative solar power tower technology to produce electricity, which includes 173,500 heliostats that follow the sun’s trajectory, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator. Since breaking ground in October 2010, the project has created thousands of jobs and, at the peak of construction, employed nearly 3,000 site workers who completed more than 8.35 million man-hours. A total of approximately $650 million in salaries for construction and operations is expected to be paid over the next 30 years.
The solar energy harnessed from Ivanpah’s Units 1 and 3 are being sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under two long-term power purchase agreements, while the electricity from Unit 2 is being sold to Southern California Edison under a similar contract.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the largest of 11 operational utility-scale solar facilities in three states in which NRG has ownership interest. Ivanpah is also one of several NRG assets that are subject to a Right of First Offer Agreement between NRG and its publicly owned subsidiary, NRG Yield Inc.