Ivanpah Solar Project Reaches Halfway Mark and Peak of Construction Employment
08 August 2012
Over 2,100 workers and staff mobilized on site at world’s largest solar thermal project
NRG Energy, Google, BrightSource Energy and construction partner Bechtel announced that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah SEGS) has reached the halfway mark of construction on the world’s largest solar thermal project. Ivanpah has also reached its peak construction workforce, with more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on-site. The $2.2 billion project is on-track to be complete in 2013.
“Large-scale solar projects like Ivanpah create thousands of construction jobs and provide clean, renewable power to help meet state renewable energy goals,” said Tom Doyle, CEO of NRG Solar. “We believe that encouraging public and private investment in our domestic clean energy industry through successful projects like Ivanpah ultimately will pay dividends by helping to secure our country’s economic future.”
“Ivanpah is an iconic infrastructure project that will set the course for the future of renewable energy in the U.S. and around the world,” said John Woolard, president & CEO, BrightSource Energy. “We are tremendously proud of the significant accomplishments being made towards Ivanpah’s completion, and look forward to powering California’s homes and businesses with clean and reliable electricity in the coming year.”
“Ivanpah will be the largest project in the world to use this potentially transformative solar technology,” said Rick Needham, director of energy and sustainability for Google. “We hope that our support spurs further investment to deploy innovative, scalable renewable energy solutions around the world.”
About the Ivanpah Project
The 370 (net) megawatt Ivanpah solar power facility is located on approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in California’s Mojave Desert managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior‘s Bureau of Land Management. The three individual power plants at Ivanpah will feature BrightSource Energy’s solar thermal power tower technology to produce clean, renewable energy from the sun. When completed in 2013, the facility will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. Power generated from the plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). The first unit will begin supplying power to PG&E in mid 2013, with units two and three delivering power to Southern California and PG&E respectively by late of 2013. In total, the project will power more than 140,000 homes and businesses in California. Ivanpah will help its customers PG&E and SCE meet the state of California’s renewable portfolio standard requirements, legislation requiring each investor-owned utility to procure 33 percent of its energy portfolio from renewable resources by 2020.
Technology Provided by BrightSource Energy
Ivanpah will employ BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology, which 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.
Creating Jobs Locally and Nationally
The $2.2 billion project is an investment into America’s future with substantial indirect economic benefits locally and across the nation. To date, the project’s engineering and construction contractor Bechtel has retained more than 2,000 construction workers to build the plant, in addition to the more than 100 engineering and support staff on site. Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California‘s local workforce benefits from the project. The project requires the work of skilled craft workers and engineers from a wide variety of trades and disciplines, including pipefitters, millwrights, carpenters, electricians, laborers, and civil engineers.
The project will provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life. The majority of the project’s supply chain is being sourced across 17 U.S. states, driving investments throughout the country and creating additional jobs in other areas that have been adversely affected by the economic downturn.
Construction Progress at Ivanpah
“The scale and complexity of the Ivanpah project presented first-of-a-kind construction challenges that required innovative thinking and execution at every level,” said Jim Ivany, president of Bechtel’s Renewable Power business. “We created lean approaches to multiple phases of the project, including heliostat assembly installation and construction of the project’s steel towers, each topped with 2,200-ton solar receiver steam generators. The processes we developed enabled the team to successfully advance the project to support electricity generation in 2013.”
The three-unit Ivanpah SEGS commenced construction in October 2010 and is halfway complete. In the power block area, home to the major power plant equipment, workers have erected three steel tower structures to support the boilers which extend to a height of 459 feet, welding interconnecting pipe inside the boiler and installing power plant equipment. In the solar field, workers are installing the project’s 173,000 pylons and heliostats, which are assembled on-site at a rate of 500 each day. To date, workers have installed more than 100,000 steel pylons and nearly 50,000 heliostats. For more details on construction progress, please see our bi-monthly Update from Ivanpah.
Net Benefit to Taxpayers
Financing of this project was facilitated by the Department of Energy’s 1703 loan guarantee program. The project's power purchase agreement, as well as its aggressive management of cost and schedule, assure that the loan will be paid back, with interest, to the benefit of taxpayers.
An Environmentally Responsible Project
The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. 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 an air-cooled condenser, BrightSource’s technology uses more than 90 percent less water than older technology parabolic trough plants with wet cooling.
About BrightSource Energy, Inc.
BrightSource Energy, Inc. is a leader in the design and development of concentrating solar thermal technology used to produce high-value electricity and steam for power, petroleum and process markets. To learn more about BrightSource Energy and concentrating solar thermal energy, visit www.brightsourceenergy.com.
NRG (NYSE: NRG) is at the forefront of changing how people think about and use energy. A Fortune 500 company, NRG is a pioneer in developing cleaner and smarter energy choices for our customers: whether as one of the largest solar power developers in the country, or by building the first privately funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure or by giving customers the latest smart energy solutions to better manage their energy use. Our diverse power generating facilities can support more than 20 million homes and our retail electricity providers – Reliant, Green Mountain Energy Company and Energy Plus – serve more than two million customers. More information is available at www.nrgenergy.com.
About Google Inc.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. For more information, visit www.google.com/about.html.