BrightSource Energy has filed an application with the California Energy Commission to develop three 250 megawatt solar power plants in Riverside County. The combined solar thermal plants, known as the Rio Mesa project, has the capacity to produce 750 megawatts of power, enough to generate electricity for 300,000 homes.
Rio Mesa will use BrightSource’s solar thermal tech, where thousands of mirrors concentrate the sun onto a boiler atop a giant tower. Water is converted to steam and used to drive a turbine, which generates electricity. This new project will feature some design improvements — and hopefully some efficiency (and cost savings) gains as well.
The three separate solar thermal plants will each have its own field of mirrors and power tower. This time, BrightSource will use higher towers, which should allow it to pack more of its sun-tracking mirrors into a smaller area. It also will use a dry-cooling and water recycling system, which will use 90 percent less water than competing solar thermal technologies with wet cooling. The design will use up to 33 percent less land than a typical solar photovoltaic farm, the company says. In short, the goal is to produce the same power quality using less land and water.
The project will be located on 5,750 acres about 13 miles southwest of Blythe, Calif. The land was once used as military training grounds and in the 1970s it was slated for what was to be the SunDesert Nuclear Power Plant, the company said. The project will create 2,500 construction jobs at its peak and 150 operations and maintenance jobs.
The company has hit roadblocks with its some of its other solar projects. Brightsource revealed in its amended s-1 filing (used when a company plan to go public) that the solar-to-team oil recovery project it built for Chevron went way over budget, Earth2tech reported earlier this week. And the endangered desert tortoise forced BrightSource to scale back the size of its Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project in the Mojave desert. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management then put the brakes on phase two and three of Ivanpah after finding more desert tortoises than anticipated during a monthly review of the area.
Photo: BrightSource Energy