California sets meeting for BrightSource Palen solar power plant

Reuters News
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Posted: May 06, 2014 11:50 AM

(Reuters) - California regulators said a committee will hold a meeting on May 7 on BrightSource Energy's proposed 500-megawatt Palen solar power plant, which could provide electricity for more than 200,000 homes.

Privately held California solar power company BrightSource and Spanish engineering firm Abengoa SA are developing the Palen project, which is estimated to cost about $2.6 billion.

The California Energy Commission said in a release late Monday the committee will take public comment at the meeting before closing the session for committee deliberations.

The Commission approved the Palen project in December 2010, but had to look at the project again in December 2012 when BrightSource, the new project owner, filed an amendment requesting to change the solar technology.

The Committee denied that amendment in December 2013 but later granted BrightSource's motion to offer further evidence on the benefits of the project.

The Commission did not say when it will make a final decision on the project.

Parabolic trough technology uses curved mirrors to reflect sunlight on a tube that contains a fluid, which is heated to high temperatures. The hot fluid is used to create steam that turns a turbine and generates electricity.

Solar power tower technology uses mirrors to reflect sunlight on solar receivers on top of a tower, heating water to create superheated steam that is piped to a turbine that generates electricity.

Abengoa will build the project and operate the plant once online. BrightSource will provide the solar technology and plant design, according to the project’s website.

The project consists of two 250-MW solar plants for a total of 500 MW. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats, or elevated mirrors, for a total of 170,000 heliostats, the Commission has said.

The solar receiver would be located atop a 750-foot tall power tower near the center of each solar field.

The companies want to build Palen on about 3,800 acres of public land in eastern Riverside County about 175 miles (282 km) east of Los Angeles.

The project would create 2,300 jobs for construction workers and support staff, and if approved could enter service in 2016, BrightSource said on its website.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)