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.
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