The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Bechtel President of Renewables Discusses Ivanpah

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, expected to be the largest solar thermal project in the world when it comes online next year, reached the halfway mark of construction in August. Last week at Solar Power International in Orlando, Fla., I sat down with Jim Ivany, president of Bechtel's Renewable Power business, to discuss the company's work on the project and the future of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) in the U.S.

This one-of-a-kind, $2.2 billion project, situated in the Mojave Desert northwest of Needles, Calif., will nearly double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. when it is completed. Ivanpah is composed of three separate plants using BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower technology that will have a combined capacity of 392 MW. The power will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.

Bechtel is providing engineering, procurement, construction and startup services for Ivanpah. The plant employs a steam turbine much like a fossil fuel or nuclear plant. But instead of using a fuel to create steam, BrightSource’s system uses the sun’s energy. The system is composed of more than 300,000 software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, which reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce a high temperate and high-pressure steam.

“The scale and complexity of the Ivanpah project presented first-of-a-kind construction challenges that required innovative thinking and execution at every level,” Ivany said.

Attention to detail and streamlining the process of installing thousands of heliostats has been an imperative for Bechtel. “If you can save 10 to 15 seconds on a single process, the money adds up real quickly. We take a lot of time on the front-end to make sure we’re as efficient as we can be.”

Bechtel created lean approaches to multiple phases of the project, including heliostat assembly installation and construction of the project’s steel towers, which are each topped with 2,200-ton solar receiver steam generators. With a projection that 2,100 people will be employed by Bechtel, BrightSource, NRG Energy and Google at the peak of construction next year, Bechtel strives to get the most out of the man hours.

In terms of the market for solar thermal, it has been slow-moving in the U.S. However, Ivany said PV and CSP should not be compared apples to apples. “Solar thermal doesn’t have to chase PV; it’s a different kind of power.”

CSP will evolve significantly over the coming years, Ivany said. “The technology is improving such that the LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) is going to go down over the years.”

Additionally, the storage potential – like molten salts – at solar thermal plants could give it an advantage compared over PV, Ivany said. Solar thermal is also less intermittent than PV, he said. If cloud cover or other conditions threaten power production, the gas auxiliary boiler on a solar thermal site can be fired up to create steam. 

*This article has been corrected from its original version to reflect that BrightSource is not planning to use molten salt storage at Ivanpah.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Renewable Energy Finance

Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Green investing used to be synonymous with losing money. But while the S&P 500 Index is up 2 percent this year, and the MSCI All-Country World Index is up 5 percent, clean energy ETFs have double-digit re...

Wheels, Towers and Trees: Unconventional Renewable Energy Technologies in the Pipeline

Andrew Williams, International Correspondent A number of companies around the world are developing novel technologies in an effort to grab a slice of the global renewable energy market.  Although many of these technologies are simple incremental improvements to e...
UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...
Microgrids

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that ha...
Former associate editor for Power Engineering magazine where I used to EPA's regulations for the power industry in detail. For renewables, I write about solar and wind-related policies and technologies. I'm a native of Tulsa, Okla. with a bac...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

More Power, More Profit Tour - San Diego

Register for the SMA More Power, More Profit Tour for free, in-person sa...

More Power, More Profit Tour - Syracuse

Register for the SMA More Power, More Profit Tour for free, in-person sa...

COMPANY BLOGS

EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

Boulder County Residents Generate Their Own Energy with Community S...

Despite a soggy afternoon, solar energy advocates gathered at ...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS