Half a gigawatt of solar! Now we're talking!The 100-megawatt concentrated solar power plant in Abu Dhabi is impressive, but it won't stay at the top of the "biggest CSP plant" list forever. Brightsource and Abengoa are currently working on a 500 megawatts concentrated solar project in California that would be composed of twin 250-megawatt units with what should be the tallest solar towers in the world (unless by then other bigger ones are built, of course).
Better solar towers than smokestacks
Both towers will be 750-foot tall. This isn't just a phallic thing; higher towers allow for more heliostats to be used, thus producing more power from a single unit. It's also more space-efficient: "This design significantly reduces the amount of land required to produce energy - up to 33 percent less than a typical photovoltaic (PV) farm." The Palen project will produce enough electricity to power 200,000 households, and prevent the emission of about 17 million tons of CO2 over its life cycle.
The Palen solar project will be located on federal land in a special Solar Energy Zone in Riverside County, California.
Permitting and development are under way, and construction is expected to begin at the end of this year and to create more than 2,000 jobs. The solar plants are expected to come online in 2016. Abengoa will build the plants as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor, and will lead the operation and maintenance of the plants once online. BrightSource will provide the solar field technology and plant design.