Ivanpah Solar Power Facility
|Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System|
Looking north towards Ivanpah Facility's eastern boiler tower from Interstate 15.
|Location||near Ivanpah, San Bernardino County, California|
|Construction cost||$2.2 billion|
|CSP technology||Solar power tower|
|Site area||3,500 acres (1,420 ha)|
|Make and model||Siemens|
|Nameplate capacity||Ivanpah 1 has a total capacity of 126 MW and Ivanpah 2 and 3 are both 133 MW each.|
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, is a solar thermal power project in the California Mojave Desert, 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Las Vegas, with a planned gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 173,500 heliostats each with two mirrors focusing solar energy on boilers located on centralized solar power towers. The project attracted some controversy because of its location on desert habitat considered by wildlife officials and environmentalists to be important for the threatened desert tortoise. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014.
The project has been developed by BrightSource Energy and Bechtel. The project cost $2.2 billion and the largest investor in the project is NRG Energy, a generating company based in Princeton, N.J., that has put in $300 million. The project has received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the United States Department of Energy. The estimated construction costs for this CSP project ($5,561.00 per KW) fall between the construction costs for coal and nuclear power plants per Synapse Energy Economics, but that does not account for the much lower capacity factor of solar power.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System consists of three solar thermal power plants on a 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) tract of public land near the Mojave Desert and the California—Nevada border in the Southwestern United States.; this is near interstate 15 and north of Ivanpah, California. The site is visible from adjacent Mojave National Preserve, Mesquite Wilderness, and Stateline Wilderness.
The facility consists of fields of heliostat mirrors focusing sunlight on receivers located on centralized solar power towers. The receivers generate steam to drive specially adapted steam turbines. For the first plant, the largest ever fully solar-powered steam turbine-generator set was ordered, using a 123-megawatt (165,000 hp) Siemens SST-900 single-casing reheat turbine. Besides steam-turbine generators Siemens supplied instrumentation and control systems. Final approval was gained in October 2010. On October 27, 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and other dignitaries gathered in the Mojave Desert to officially break ground on the project. The first phase of the Ivanpah facility is scheduled to be finished in 2013. The project has generated controversy because of BrightSource's decision to build it on ecologically intact desert habitat. Project construction was temporarily halted in the spring of 2011 due to the impacts on desert tortoises, although construction resumed.
The project has received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. The total cost of the project is about $2.18 billion. BrightSource has contracts to sell about two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah to PG&E, and the rest to SCE.
The largest investor in the project is NRG Energy, a generating company based in Princeton, N.J., that has put in $300 million. The project has also received an investment of $168 million from Google, but in November 2011, Google announced that they would no longer invest in CSP due to the rapid price decline of photovoltaics, and stopped its research on the project.
In February 2012, Ivanpah was awarded the CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA.
The Ivanpah plants would use BrightSource Energy's "Luz Power Tower 550 technology" (LPT 550):
The LPT 550 solar system produces electricity the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. BrightSource uses thousands of mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a receiver being developed by Riley Power Inc. filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the receiver, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity.
Additionally, "The power towers have 'receiver units' at their top on which the mirror fields focus their reflected light. During operation, these receiver units become extremely hot, such that they glow and appear brightly lit high above the ground, these glowing receiver units will be a visible distraction to persons at many of the Key Observation Points, including travelers utilizing I-15."
According to the State of California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission Opening Briefs regarding this project, "The project itself is visually imposing. It would cover roughly 4,000 acres (1,600 ha), most of which would be covered with mirror fields. The panoramic expanse of mirror arrays would present strong textural contrast with the intact, natural character of the desert floor [and] would rise to a height of roughly 459 feet [140 m]; an additional 10 to 15 feet [3–5 m] above that height would consist of lighting to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements."
Elected San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who represents most of the California Mojave Desert has stated that the "project would create jobs for mostly Las Vegas and electricity for mostly San Francisco."
The steam plant is designed for 28.72% gross efficiency.
A claimed capacity factor of 31.4% is expected implying an annual generation of 377 MW (nameplate capacity) * 31.4% (capacity factor) * 8760 hours/year = 1.04 TW-hrs/year. Based on irradiance and efficiency, the expected output is 2717 kWh/m2/yr * 173,500 heliostats * 15 m2/heliostat * 28.72% efficiency = 2.03 TW-hrs/year. Lack of published performance data is causing speculation that the plant is not meeting expectations, but it's probably too early to tell.
The Ivanpah installation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually. It is also designed to minimize impacts on the natural environment through land-use efficiency, and a low impact heliostat layout which allows the solar field to follow the natural land contours and avoid key vegetation areas.
The Ivanpah Solar power project required disturbance of over 5.5 square miles of public land in the northeastern Mojave Desert. In 2012 the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) issued a report on the project, citing water concerns, damage to visual resources, and impacts on important desert species. In order to conserve scarce desert water, LPT 550 uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water. Compared to conventional wet-cooling, this results in a 90 percent reduction in water usage. The water is then returned to the boiler in a closed process. Many desert tortoises found on the site were relocated to other parts of the Mojave Desert. However, environmentalists have raised concerns that relocated tortoises are more likely to die due to the stresses involved. BrightSource has also installed fencing that will keep wildlife out of the area. In 2010, the project was scaled back from the original 440-megawatt (590,050 hp) design, to avoid building on the habitat of the desert tortoise.
During the trial of the solar thermal power plant September 2013 15 of the 34 dead birds found at the plant had heavily burned feathers, which shows that the feathers had burned and charred by the intense radiation from the heliostat mirrors of solar thermal plant in flight, which resulted in the falling of the dead birds from the sky.
- List of solar thermal power stations
- Solar power plants in the Mojave Desert
- Blythe Solar Power Project
- Michael R. Blood and Brian Skolof, "Huge thermal plant opens as solar industry grows", Associated Press, February 13, 2014.
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- Energy efficiency. Rethinking the energy system here in the U.S.
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- Ivanpah Solar Power Facility website
- Brightsource energy official website
- Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System