Solar Thermal Test Center Opened by BrightSource Energy in Israel
computer rendering of solar thermal test project, as viewed from central tower, by Luz IILuz II, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oakland, California based BrightSource Energy has opened a new solar thermal test center in Israel’s Negev Desert—the results of which are destined for use by Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E; contracted with BrightSource in April to purchase up to 900 MW of solar thermal power (enough for 630,000 homes) over the next few years. According to BrightSource this new center will be the first of its kind in Israel.Solar Thermal FieldBrightSource describes how the project will work:
"The solar field is a scaled cross-section of a typical commercial plant and includes more than 1,600 full-sized glass mirrors (heliostats) and a 60 meter tall tower topped by a solar boiler. The power tower and surrounding heliostats concentrate the sun’s energy onto the boiler, heating the water inside to 550°C."
In a commercial plant this steam generated from the boiler would power a turbine to generate electricity. In the case of BrightSource’s plant, air-cooling is used to turn the steam back into water, which is returned to the boiler in a closed-loop system. The 12,000 square meter test site will generate 1.5 MW of electricity. BrightSource claims its system is more efficient than older solar thermal technologies, and costs less to build but provides no financial details on the project.
Clean tech bound for CaliforniaThe results of this research will be employed in building a 100 MW plant in California’s Mojave Desert, a move which will help PG&E; comply with California’s requirement that 20% of its electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2010, and 33% by 2030.
Currently the state generates slightly over 10% of its power from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small-scale hydroelectric.
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