Abengoa Solar announces the signing of a power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to supply the electricity generated by the new solar plant “Mojave Solar.” The project will generate 250 megawatts (MW) of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and is to be located in an unincorporated area of San Bernardino County, between Barstow and Kramer Junction, approximately nine miles northwest of Hinkley, and 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The project is expected to bring 1,200 green construction jobs and, when completed, approximately 80 permanent jobs to this desert area.
Once it starts operating in 2013, it will generate nearly as much electricity as all of California’s present-day commercial CSP installations combined, enough to power about 90,000 average homes, and avoid over 431 kilotons per year of greenhouse gas emissions.
On August 10, 2009, Abengoa Solar filed an Application for Certification with the California Energy Commission for its Mojave Solar Project. The project has been deemed data adequate by the CEC and public meetings are anticipated to begin in December.
The project will be sited on 1,765 acres of private, previously disturbed land that had been farmed since the 1920s but is now largely fallow. The solar plant will use significantly less water per acre than was used for agricultural purposes.
The spinoff economic benefits, including jobs created, are expected to be significant near an area that was farmed for alfalfa from the 1920s but was later largely abandoned.
Mojave Solar Project will contribute to meeting California’s aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for moving away from fossil fuels to solar energy and other renewable energy sources that avoid pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Mojave Solar Project will use a similar size and type of Abengoa Solar parabolic trough technology as the system that will be installed at the Solana Electrical Generating Station announced in 2008 near Phoenix, Arizona. This is a highly innovative system that maximizes power production in trough plants.
The plant uses parabolic mirrors that are arranged in long troughs and track the sun’s movement continually during the day, concentrating the solar radiation onto a heat-absorbing pipe at the focal point of the mirrors. A heat transfer fluid circulating inside the pipe reaches temperatures of more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat is then used to generate steam that drives a conventional steam turbine.
In addition to the Mojave Solar Project in California and the Solana Project in Arizona, Abengoa Solar has seven CSP plants under construction or operation and others under development. In August 2009, Abengoa Solar announced that it was selected by Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility company, to build a demonstration parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant at Xcel Energy’s Cameo coal plant near Grand Junction, Colorado. Abengoa Solar has also used recently parabolic trough technology to make industrial process heat for a major food processor to cook snacks in Modesto, CA and for the U.S. Department of Energy to treat contaminated groundwater in Tuba City, AZ.