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DOE finalizes $1.6B loan guarantee for BrightSource Energy Inc.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) finalized $1.6 billion in loan guarantees to support the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System, three related utility-scale concentrated solar power plants. The Recovery Act funded project, sponsored by BrightSource Energy, Inc., will be located on federally-owned land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, near the Nevada border, and will be one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power complexes.

The three-plant Ivanpah Solar Complex will generate approximately 392 gross megawatts (MW) of electricity using the company’s proprietary concentrating solar power (CSP) technology. Once operational, the project will produce nearly one million megawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power over 85,000 homes, and will avoid more than 640,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking over 120,000 cars off the road.

The project includes solar fields containing more than 173,000 dual-mirror heliostats. Brightsource’s proprietary technology controls the mirrors to follow the sun, capturing a greater percentage of solar energy than other solar thermal technologies. Electricity from the project will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison Company (SCE). The project will be interconnected to the electricity grid via an upgraded SCE transmission line.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling more than $18 billion to support 20 clean energy projects across 14 states. The program’s nine generation projects will produce nearly 23 million megawatt-hours, enough to power over two million homes. Additional DOE-supported projects include the world’s largest wind farm, two geothermal projects and the US’ first new nuclear power plant in three decades.



I've wanted the solar thermal power industry to scale in Southern California for a long time. I've supposed that competing technologies and models would eventually turn up a winner and that costs would eventually approach coal on the margin.

That said, I'm a bit concerned that $1.6 Billion divided by 85,000 households is $18,823/household...that's a long repayment period.


$4 / MW does sound a bit high for a utility scale project. Perhaps there is some R&D included.

The number of MWh generated per each rated peak MW seems similar to PV (~20%).

It'd really be interesting to see this project in person once it is finished.


Thats the power production of a piddling 115MW baseload plant that runs 24 hours a day.


one million megawatt hours of electricity per year

At 10 cents per kWh that is $100 million per year, 30 years is $3 trillion, at the cost of money that is not so bad.



Thanks. Good way to put it into perspective. Except I think you mean $3 Billion. I'm guessing a KWh will average more like 15 cents for that period of maybe $4.5 Billion...kind of marginal for many future values of money and possible inflation and interest rates...but...when you think of it as a research and infrastructure development project to lower the cost of other solar thermal power plants, perhaps it amortizes out much better.


The output naturally load follows to some extent so it can reduce the base load requirements to a larger extent. Anyone know to what extent?


One more step in the right direction. USA needs many plants like this one.


Sorry, yes $3 billion, $3 trillion would be a bit out of the private sector investment range.


Expensive. It is much more expensive than wind power. One advantage is that most of power generated will be peak power. Suprisingly it has potential to become commercial.


When you look at how much wind is available in that area, solar is the way. From the Texas panhandle to the Dakotas is a wind corridor, the Mojave is sun. You want the source close to the use and that location is prime.



Actually my estimate is that this produces electricity at a marginal cost of 30 cents/KWHr at a capacity factor of 20% with 7% interest rate. I think grid-scale PV parks are at least a factor of two cheaper.

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