Clean Power The world's first commercial-scale solar power plant that works at night because of energy storage. It was constructed in 2011.

Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


150MW California Solar Project With Energy Storage Gets PPA

January 30th, 2013 by  

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a power purchase agreement under which Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) would purchase electricity from SolarReserve’s 150-megawatt Rice Solar Energy Project.

The world’s first commercial-scale solar power plant that works at night because of energy storage. Image Source: Torresol Energy

According to SolarReserve, this will be the largest solar project in California to incorporate energy storage. Located in Riverside County, the project will cost $750 million and is expected to generate more than 5,300 direct, indirect, and induced jobs. 

Once completed, this project will be able to power up to 65,000 homes during peak electricity periods.

It is a solar thermal steam power plant which utilizes thermal molten salt energy storage, which can provide solar power for eight to ten hours when there is a lack of sunlight. It operates by using sunlight, which is concentrated by thousands of mirrors to heat molten salt, which effectively stores that heat for hours, and the hot molten salt is then used to boil a fluid and produce steam whenever it is needed.

This project will be located in the Sonoran desert. It will be dry cooled to minimize water usage (just as at the Shams 1 CSP plant in Abu Dhabi), requiring less than 20% of the water than a conventional coal or nuclear power plant.

Bloomberg reported that this PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) will begin on June 1, 2016. California’s government would like to increase the amount of electricity from renewable energy to a large extent, and projects like these with energy storage are a major aid to that initiative.

Source: Yahoo! News


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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • SolarReserve’s 150-megawatt Rice Solar Energy Project, the world’s first commercial-scale solar power plant that works at night because of energy storage is indeed a giant step in Solar Energy which will have chain reaction for such projects elsewhere.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India


  • Otis11

    So idk how they are drycooling it – but why wouldn’t you use the fact that the sand 3-4 feet below the surface are incredibly cool, even during midday. IDK how much thermal mass sand has and therefore it might not work, but it might be worth crunching the numbers. I mean if you’re ever stranded in the desert you can use that fact to condense water out of the very dry air… Just something to think about if anyone has sway in that industry.

    • Think it’s just the extent of the cooling needed. The Shams 1 in Abu Dhabi (UAE) is also using dry cooling. It’s less efficient than wet cooling, but the lack of water exceeds that downside. They are using HUGE fans there, tons of them, for the cooling.

      • Otis11

        Yeah, I was thinking it might be more efficient to cool them with water and then pipe the water through an underground radiator to bring the water back down to temp. I think there’s probably not enough thermal mass for that, but it’s worth looking at.

        • Yeah, it’s apparently a lot more efficient — have to dig into my notes to get the number. Water is just too scarce a resource in some places.

    • Bill_Woods

      The waste heat has to be dumped into the air somehow. Putting it into the ground would mean putting ~100 MW of heat into the earth and then waiting for it to conduct up to the surface, and then into the air.

      • Otis11

        Now it makes sense that everything would have to come back out through the surface – but then that doesn’t explain why geothermal loops work. Even as building dump tons of their waste heat into the ground, it maintains a relatively steady temperature. But then again, I am not well versed on the mechanism by which this occurs, so please correct me.

        Also your conduction comment is not necessarily true. Every object radiates light in what’s know as black body radiation – usually strong infrared when objects are hot to the touch, but can be lower. To do this they change energy that is in the form of heat into whatever form of electromagnetic radiation it has in it’s black-body profile, cooling itself and absorbing heat from it’s surroundings until everything is at equilibrium. It’s been a while since I’ve worked with this so I could be mistaken, but I believe silica, the most common component of sand, has a thermal absorption profile well above infrared, meaning the radiation emitted from those grains below would pass through (maybe diffracted, but not impeded) by the grains above, allowing heat (in the form of black body radiation) to freely flow out of the sand as if it weren’t even there. And since air does not absorb infrared radiation either, it would continue and just be emitted into space unless it hit another object before then. Now there is a limit to how quickly this effect can remove the heat, and it may well not be practical on the scale necessary for this, but I don’t see a technical error in the logic.

        Unless I missed something? Which is very possible… I do run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off most of the time.

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