PG&E Adds 107 MW of Solar-Hybrid Power

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has entered into two contracts with San Joaquin Solar, a subsidiary of Martifer Renewables Electricity, for a combined 106.8 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal-biofuel hybrid power, to continue its program of adding utility-scale solar power to its energy mix.

Located near Coalinga, California, the solar-biofuel projects will deliver a total of 700 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity per year to PG&E customers in northern and central California. Martifer’s hybrid projects combine solar thermal trough technology and steam turbines powered by biomass fuel to produce hybrid solar-biofuel electricity. Each hybrid project will require 250,000 tons of biofuel annually, to be supplied from a combination of locally-produced agricultural wastes, green wastes and livestock manure. These projects are expected to begin operation in 2011.

In a related story, Pacific Power Management, LLC has installed a 1 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted array this week at Far West Rice plant in California that includes more than 5,500 Mitsubishi Electric solar panels. The US $6.5 million installation cost was partly offset by US $1.8 million in solar rebates from PG&E and will potentially generate approximately 70-80% of the total energy required to run the rice plant. 

With energy costs rising rapidly, the solar installation will allow predictable energy costs for Far West, reducing their costs for the milling and processing of rice and, when the mill is not operating, their solar system will feed electrical power back into PG&E’s electrical grid.

“Going solar made sense from a business standpoint,” said Greg Johnson Executive Vice President of Far West Rice, Inc. “Our electricity bill will be lower and the installation also means that our communities can breathe easier and enjoy California’s beauty with less air pollution. We are excited to be involved in this technology and know that it will exceed our expectations.”

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