DOE announced a conditional commitment for more than $1.37 billion in loan guarantees to BrightSource Energy, Inc. in support of the construction and start-up of three utility-scale concentrated solar power plants (CSP) in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. The loan guarantee is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is predicated on BrightSource meeting financial and environmental requirements before closing on the loan. The Bureau of Land Management is leading a federal review of the project with support from DOE. Pending local, state, and federal regulatory approval, the new plants will generate approximately 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity using the company's proprietary technology. This output would nearly double the existing generation capacity of CSP facilities in the United States.
The three-plant Ivanpah Solar Complex will be located on federally owned land near the Nevada border and will be the world's largest operational concentrated solar power complex. BrightSource will use solar power tower technology, which uses thousands of flat mirrors, or "heliostats" to concentrate the sun's heat onto a receiver mounted at the top of a tower. Water pumped to the receiver is boiled into steam, which drives a turbine to produce electricity. The first Ivanpah plant is expected to begin construction in the second half of 2010 and come on line in 2012. Commercial operation for the second plant is slated for mid-2013, with the third plant following later that year. Once operational, the project will supply power to approximately 140,000 California homes. Brightsource says the project will create 1,000 temporary jobs and 86 permanent jobs.