World's Largest Solar Thermal Project at Halfway Mark
IVANPAH, Calif. – August 2012 – NRG Energy, Google, BrightSource Energy and construction partner Bechtel announced that the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah SEGS) has reached the halfway mark of construction on the world’s largest solar thermal project. Ivanpah has also reached its peak construction workforce, with more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on-site. The $2.2 billion project is on-track to be complete in 2013.
“Large-scale solar projects like Ivanpah create thousands of construction jobs and provide clean, renewable power to help meet state renewable energy goals,” said Tom Doyle, CEO of NRG Solar. “We believe that encouraging public and private investment in our domestic clean energy industry through successful projects like Ivanpah ultimately will pay dividends by helping to secure our country’s economic future.”
“Ivanpah is an iconic infrastructure project that will set the course for the future of renewable energy in the US and around the world,” said John Woolard, President & CEO, BrightSource Energy. “We are tremendously proud of the significant accomplishments being made towards Ivanpah’s completion, and look forward to powering California’s homes and businesses with clean and reliable electricity in the coming year.”
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“Ivanpah will be the largest project in the world to use this potentially transformative solar technology,” said Rick Needham, Director of Energy & Sustainability for Google. “We hope that our support spurs further investment to deploy innovative, scalable renewable energy solutions around the world.”
About the Ivanpah Project
The 370 (net) megawatt Ivanpah solar power facility is located on approximately 3,500 acres of federal land in California’s Mojave Desert managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior‘s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The three individual power plants at Ivanpah will feature BrightSource Energy’s solar thermal power tower technology to produce clean, renewable energy from the sun. When completed in 2013, the facility will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the US.
Power generated from the plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). The first unit will begin supplying power to PG&E in mid 2013, with units two and three delivering power to Southern California and PG&E respectively by late of 2013. In total, the project will power more than 140,000 homes and businesses in California. Ivanpah will help its customers PG&E and SCE meet the state of California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements, legislation requiring each investor-owned utility to procure 33 percent of its energy portfolio from renewable resources by 2020.
Technology Provided by BrightSource Energy
Ivanpah will employ BrightSource’s power tower solar thermal technology, which generates power the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses the sun’s energy. BrightSource’s system uses a state-of-the-art field of software-controlled mirrors, called heliostats, to reflect the sun’s energy to a boiler atop a tower to produce the high temperature and high-pressure steam. The steam can then be integrated with conventional power plant components to produce predictable, reliable and cost-competitive clean energy.
Creating Jobs Locally and Nationally
The $2.2 billion project is an investment into America’s future with substantial indirect economic benefits locally and across the nation. To date, the project’s engineering and construction contractor Bechtel has retained over 2,000 construction workers to build the plant, in addition to the more than 100 engineering and support staff on site. Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California‘s local workforce benefits from the project. The project requires the work of skilled craft workers and engineers from a wide variety of trades and disciplines, including pipefitters, millwrights, carpenters, electricians, laborers and civil engineers.
The project will provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life. The majority of the project’s supply chain is being sourced domestically across 17 U.S. states, driving investments throughout the country and creating additional jobs in other areas that have been adversely affected by the economic downturn.
Construction Progress at Ivanpah
“The scale and complexity of the Ivanpah project presented first-of-a-kind construction challenges that required innovative thinking and execution at every level,” said Jim Ivany, president of Bechtel’s Renewable Power business. “We created lean approaches to multiple phases of the project, including heliostat assembly installation and construction of the project’s steel towers, each topped with 2,200-ton solar receiver steam generators. The processes we developed enabled the team to successfully advance the project to support electricity generation in 2013.”
The three-unit Ivanpah SEGS commenced construction in October 2010 and is halfway complete. In the power block area, home to the major power plant equipment, workers have erected three steel tower structures to support the boilers which extend to a height of 459 feet, welding interconnecting pipe inside the boiler and installing power plant equipment. In the solar field, workers are installing the project’s 173,000 pylons and heliostats, which are assembled on-site at a rate of 500 each day. To date, workers have installed more than 100,000 steel pylons and nearly 50,000 heliostats. For more details on construction progress, please see our bi-monthly Update from Ivanpah.
Net Benefit to Taxpayers
Financing of this project was facilitated by the Department of Energy’s 1703 loan guarantee program. The project's power purchase agreement, as well as its aggressive management of cost and schedule, assure that the loan will be paid back, with interest, to the benefit of taxpayers.
An Environmentally Responsible Project
The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. BrightSource’s system is also designed to minimize impacts on the natural environment. In addition to being one of the most land-efficient renewable energy technologies, BrightSource’s low impact heliostat layout is flexible, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation. And in order to conserve scarce water resources, the technology employs an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using an air-cooled condenser, BrightSource’s technology uses more than 90 percent less water than older technology parabolic trough plants with wet cooling.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere