World's Largest Solar Deal Signed in California

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In what is purported to be the world’s largest solar deal, Southern California Edison and BrightSource Energy signed a series of contracts yesterday to give California 1,300 MW of solar energy— enough power for 845,000 homes. The project will produce 3.7 billion KWH of power and avoid over two million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

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As part of the proposal, BrightSource will install its Luz Power Tower 550 (LPT 550) at each power plant. The LPT uses thousands of small mirrors, or heliostats, to reflect sunlight onto a steam-producing boiler placed on top of a tower. The steam is then sent to a conventional turbine to generate electricity.

Seven solar power plants will be built in order to generate the full 1,300 MW, with the first expected to be in operation by 2013. The rest of the projects will likely be completed six to seven years later.

SCE and BrightSource Energy are currently negotiating approval for the power plants with the California Public Utilities Commission. Construction may begin as early as 2010.

Photo Credit: NREL

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