Joe Romm had an article about concentrating solar power (CSP) going back six years now called “The technology that will save humanity.” He gave a great overview, including a history and an eminently lucid rationale for its deployment. About five years ago I was driving west of Seville and was knocked out by the sight of the CSP plant that Abengoa has built there.
Today marks what may be a pretty important historical milestone: opening day for the largest CSP plant in the world, with 392 MW of capacity. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is owned by BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy, and a little mom and pop shop called Google. Having played a big role in Ivanpah’s development, along with scores of other solar projects, the US Department of Energy will be there to help cut the ribbon. Ivanpah will feed enough clean, virtually limitless power to the grid to meet the needs of 140,000 homes. It’s a breakthrough, to be sure. Tom Doyle, president, NRG Solar, had this to say: “We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy.” For an in-depth and interesting look at Ivanpah, see the always-excellent Katie Fehrenbacher’s story: The Hoover Dam of solar is now live in the desert of California.
For more on the promise of concentrating solar power, visit the good folks at CSP Today and see also the chapter on solar from the IPCC’s comprehensive Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN). To see how to build one of these facilities, check out Ivanpah’s video.