Gallery: Ausra Unveils California’s First Solar Thermal Plant in 20 Yea...

 

California’s first solar thermal plant in 20 years recently launched in Bakersfield, helping to usher the golden state into a new era of renewable energy. Designed by Ausra, the Kimberlina solar thermal plant will utilize 1,000-foot long mirrors to convert the sun’s rays into energy. The new plant is the first of it’s kind in North America and was constructed in just seven months.

Ausra‘s Bakersfield plant is expected to generate 5MW of electricity (enough to power 3,500 homes), and it is an exciting a proof of concept for a much larger 177MW facility set to open in 2010 in San Luis Obispo that will power more than 120,000 homes.

Ausra‘s solar-thermal plants employ a technology called Compact Linear Fresnel Reflectors. The process use mirrors to focus the sun’s heat upon tubes of water, creating steam that is used to drive power turbines to generate electricity. Unlike wind and photovoltaic systems, solar thermal plants are capable of storing heat for times when power is needed, and the steam produced can also used for other applications.

At the plant’s unveiling Governor Schwarzenegger stated: “This next generation solar power plant is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay . . . Not only will this large-scale solar facility generate power to help us meet our renewable energy goals, it will also generate new jobs as California continues to pioneer the clean-tech industry.”

+ Ausra

Via MSNBC

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5 Comments

  1. Donald E. Lutz January 6, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Notice that the three power companies in California have signed up for solar, but it is from other companies.
    Utilities do not own solar plants and are smart. They have to show that they are for solar, but they are not foolish enough to spend their own money building and owning a solar plant. I am suprised that there are many organizatons that will put up their own money for solar plants.Luz did and went broke in the process.

  2. Unhabitat May 19, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Another wonderful virtually numbers-free article . Doesn’t 5 MW for 3500 homes = ~1450 WATTS capacity per home? Better not turn on the toaster AND the coffee pot.

    Something’s not right here.

  3. frflyer November 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    corndogman

    Some solar thermal plants heat an oil instead of water. As far as storing heat, water, oil and molten salt are being used. Salts can be heated to over 1000 F and are extremely efficient at storing heat. The salts melt at about 450 F

    Solar thermal plants need to cool the vaporized water, so it can condense and be reheated. This is done either with water cooling or air cooling. Air cooling loses some of the efficiency, but has the advantage of not using water in desert conditions. Where water cooling is appropriate, the system can double as a way to purify brackish or polluted water. This could be a big factor, especially for some third world countries like India.
    Even when they are cooled by water, the amount required is miniscule when compared with the cooling water required for a nuclear plant.
    A must read article on solar thermal is at:
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/04/14/solar_electric_thermal/index.html

    This article shows why solar thermal is the best replacement for coal fired plants.

    Another good article is at Scientific American. ” A Solar Grand Plan” This proposal advocates using concentrating PV power plants more than solar thermal, which I disagree with,(I think maybe they had people from First Solar on their board, since they emphasize Cadmium Teluride cells) but the overall plan is good and they show the cost analysis of doing this. They envision having a 69% solar powered grid by 2050.
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan

    Also, Green Wombat has lots of articles on the development of solar thermal, just go to the archives to find them.
    http://greenwombat.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/

    It should be noted that the application appropriate for these solar farms is large scale. They become much more cost effective when they are over 100 megawatts.
    Brightsource has proposals for plants up to 900 megawatts in the Mojave desert.

    The three power companies in California have already signed up for 2 gigawatts of solar thermal plants. It’s just the begining.
    One gigawatt would power San Francisco, or about 770,000 homes. By comparison, Hoover Dam is about 2 gigwatts. Nuclear plants are usually 1 or 2 gigawatts.
    The average coal plant is about 600 megawatts
    1000 megawatts = 1 gigawatt

  4. corndogman November 9, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I wonder if heating water is the best thing for solar thermal. there could be some other substance that has better qualities. any ideas? I’m trying to design one and could use some suggestions

  5. sellmaru October 29, 2008 at 5:22 am

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