California has already been leading the country in solar developments as it races towards its goal of 30% renewable power by 2020.
On Monday, yet another solar plant was added to the mix in San Bernardino County. Spain’s Abengoa Solar announced that construction was in full force for its newest 280 MW CSP Mojave Solar project that just signed a power purchase agreement with PG&E.
The plant will be one of the country’s few commercial-scale CSP plants and is scheduled to come online in 2014. Construction has already generated a significant amount of jobs in the region.
“The recent economic slowdown has impacted our business and ability to keep our employees working. The Mojave Solar Project will increase our business by about 15% for the 2012 fiscal year,” said Nathan Ritter, project manager for Sukut Construction, which is managing the plant’s construction.
CSP, or concentrated solar power, is a bit different than the traditional solar PV plant that uses advanced solar cell technology to automatically convert the sun’s rays to electricity. A CSP plant is powered by mirrors, or heliostats, that collect and reflect the sun’s ray onto a vat of water. When the water becomes very hot it begins to boil and that steam powers a turbine.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) developments abound in California, among them the recently announced 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project in eastern Riverside County in the city of Blythe and NRG’s (formerly SunPower’s) 250 MW solar PV plant, California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo Country.
Abengoa already operates 393 MW of CSP solar power globally and is in the process of constructing an additional 1,010 MW. The Mojave plant will be the company’s 16th CSP plant.
Photo Caption: Some of the 24,000 mirrors called ‘heliostats’ at the eSolar Sierra SunTower power plant in Lancaster, California in the Mojave Desert approximately 70 miles (110 km) north of Los Angeles May 12, 2011. eSolar’s concentrated solar power (CSP) system uses the movable heliostats to reflect solar heat to a thermal receiver mounted atop two towers. Electrical power is produced when the focused heat boils water within the thermal receiver and produces steam, which is then piped to a nearby reconditioned 1947 GE turbine generator to produce electricity.