Solar power history will be made in Southern California, after it was announced that Southern California Edison and Israeli firm, BrightSource Energy, have signed the world’s largest solar energy deal.
Now awaiting approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (this could happen by as early as 2013), the Israeli-California sun project will power almost one million California homes.
Israel Kroizer, the CEO and president of BrightSource, says that when completed, it will be the world’s largest solar energy project. Some 1,300 megawatts of energy will be created, with the first plant to be built in Ivanpah, California, which is expected to generate 286,000 megawatt-hours per year.
The project will also inevitably create more jobs in the region. “It’s the biggest solar energy project ever signed,” Kroizer claims, and when complete, it will be the largest solar energy plant in the world, he adds.
Last year, BrightSource created an industry sensation when it launched its pilot plant in Israel’s Negev Desert. Employing thousands of tiny mirrors called heliostats, BrightSource unveiled the Luz Power Tower – the LPT 550 – to reflect sunlight from the heliostats onto a boiler atop a tower.
Built with water-conserving principles in mind, the BrightSource system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water. And the environmentally friendly closed cycle solution is, according to the company, designed to offer the highest operating efficiencies and lowest costs in the industry.
“We opened a pilot in Israel last year – a demo plant to run some tests – and we were really satisfied with the results. Now we are focusing in the States, and will respond to the [solar energy] tender being published in Israel. Israel is a target market for us, but it’s not the same size as the US,” said Kroizer.
As part of the deal with its American partner SCE, BrightSource will retain its engineering and logistics facilities in Israel. Equipment will be purchased from around the world, while the company’s corporate offices for project and business development and financing will continue working out of Oakland, California. BrightSource, which was officially founded in 2004, and started operating in 2006, employs 30 people in the US, and 90 in Israel.