The future of green energy production in California is happening RIGHT NOW, and this is what it looks like:
That's a thermal tower, one of three being built by BrightSource Energy in California's Mojave Desert – thermal towers which will be surrounded by 347,000 heliostat mirrors capable of producing 392 megawatts of power.
I'll say that again: 392 megawatts of power, enough power to provide energy for 140,000 homes.
And that's just the beginning, as California moves to create solar power plants capable of producing the energy of two nuclear reactors by 2016!
You've got to see this:
The plant, which already has contracts to provide energy to both PG&E and Southern California Edison, utilizes remote controlled mirrors that focus the sun's concentrated rays upon the solar towers, which boil water at ridiculously high temperatures and produce steam-generated energy.
Here's what it looks like (from a presentation given in Jerusalem by BrightSource Industries executive Arnold J. Goldman):
This is how the official project site describes the Ivanpah Solar Generating Electric System, being built near the California-Nevada border:
The 392 megawatt (gross) solar complex uses mirrors to focus the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers and will consist of three separate plants and provide electricity to PG&E and Southern California Edison...Now under construction, Ivanpah utilizes proven solar thermal technology and a low environmental impact design to power California's clean energy economy with cost-competitive and reliable solar power.
The plant, which will go live in 2013 and was made possible by a $1.6 billion loan guarantee by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be the largest thermal generation station in the world, and will be just one of several plants California plans to build as it moves toward serious green energy production.
Here are some of the impressive elements from BrightSource:
1) More than 13.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be avoided over the 30-year life cycle of the plant, equivalent to taking 2.1 million cars off the road. This solar complex also cuts major air pollutants by 85% compared to new natural gas-fired power plants.
2) The Ivanpah project will employ 170,000 low-impact heliostats. The entire Ivanpah project features an industry-leading low-impact design, resulting in maximum land-use efficiency. Our heliostat technology places individual mirrors onto metal poles that are driven into the ground, which allows vegetation to coexist underneath and around our mirrors; reduces the need for extensive land grading; and uses far fewer concrete pads than other technologies. The project is also thoughtfully sited near existing roads and transmission lines and in an area where human activity has already left its mark.
3) BrightSource's LPT solar thermal systems being deployed at Ivanpah use an air-cooling system. This dry-cooling system allows us to reduce water usage by more than 90% over competing solar thermal technologies using conventional wet cooling systems.
In 2008, a test thermal station was built in Israel's Negev Desert to validate the performance of the technology, a station that exceeded all expectations for this new solar energy technology, and which led to securing the California contracts. Below is a great video that explains how it works in detail:
Happy Independence [from Oil] Day everyone!!!
UPDATE: It appears BrightSource is hiring. This from commenter tmo: As the latest diary update mentions, BrightSource is headquartered in Oakland. For folks looking for work, their website has some job openings in Oakland, as well as in Jerusalem, Las Vegas, Nipton CA and Melbourne, Australia: http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/... Looks like they have an office in Paris too but no job openings there right now.
Author's Note: BrightSource Energy is a company based in Oakland, CA, and its subsidiary, BrightSource Industries, is based in Israel.