Watch eSolar’s launch live here at 10 am PDT. CEO Bill Gross will be joined by David Meyers, Executive Director of The Wildlands Conservancy, and leading clean energy experts Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley and Google.org’s Dan Reicher (my boss from DOE days) .
Below is a fascinating video from a recent episode of National Geographic‘s World’s Toughest Fixes: “In this episode, discover the engineering feats behind the development of the eSolar Sierra SunTower power plant.”
I asked the company whether future systems will have storage – no reply yet. CSP with storage is going gangbusters elsewhere (see “World’s largest solar plant with thermal storage to be built in Arizona – total of 8500 MW of this core climate solution planned for 2014 in U.S. alone“).
Here is more detail on eSolar from its press release:
LANCASTER, Calif. – August 5, 2009 – With 24,000 mirrors glimmering under the Antelope Valley summer sun, eSolar, a leading provider of modular, scalable solar thermal power technology, today unveiled its 5-megawatt (MW) Sierra SunTower solar power plant. The full-scale power plant, the only power tower of its kind in the U.S., produces electricity for Southern California Edison (SCE) and can power more than 4,000 homes in California’s Antelope Valley.
The eSolar technology resolves many of the problems that have held back large scale solar in the past including cost, speed of deployment and proximity to existing transmission lines. eSolar uses advanced software algorithms to precisely focus thousands of mirrors on a single point to efficiently harvest the sun’s energy and achieve economies of scale with a smaller footprint than anyone else in the business.
“Today, we unveil a new blueprint for solar energy – one that leverages Moore’s law rather than more steel,” said Bill Gross, CEO of eSolar. “Sierra is just the beginning. Soon eSolar technology will be deployed worldwide to provide clean, affordable energy to hundreds of thousands of homes.”
Constructed in less than one year, eSolar’s Sierra SunTower power plant marks the first of several developments in the Antelope Valley region using eSolar technology. Over the course of construction, this project created 300 jobs.
“With today’s historic plant opening, eSolar is proving that California’s energy and environmental leadership are advancing carbon-free, cost-effective energy that can be used around the world,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Through measures such as AB 32 and the California Solar Initiative, I have worked to create an environment that allows companies such as eSolar to thrive in our state – creating green jobs, boosting our economy and preparing us for the energy demands of the future.”
eSolar received the support and cooperation of the City of Lancaster throughout the construction process. “The City of Lancaster is proud to be home to the nation’s newest solar power tower plant. This plant and eSolar’s progressive growth plans throughout the Antelope Valley are the crown jewels in our ongoing effort to truly become the Alternative Energy Capital of the World,” said R. Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster.
eSolar develops its California projects on parcels of previously disturbed private lands, avoiding many of the permitting and environmental pitfalls of development on pristine desert lands. Located in northern Lancaster, Sierra SunTower is built on private land designated for heavy industrial use. The decision to site projects solely on private land is unique within the utility-scale solar industry, and the distinction has garnered support from local environmental advocates.
“eSolar demonstrates that pristine wildlands do not have to be sacrificed in order to keep the lights on with clean energy,” remarked David Myers, Executive Director of the Wildlands Conservancy. “eSolar’s efforts to reduce its impact on the surrounding environment demonstrates a level of foresight we hope to see from other solar developers in the future.”
Sierra SunTower was fully financed and developed by eSolar, proving the rapid deployment, pre-fabricated method eSolar patented and pioneered. Building on Sierra’s success, eSolar will deploy many more plants around the country and around the world.
In February, eSolar announced an agreement with NRG Energy, Inc. to develop three plants in California and New Mexico that will generate up to 465 megawatts of electricity using eSolar technology. Additionally, in March, eSolar licensed its technology to India-based ACME Group for approximately 1 gigawatt of eSolar solar thermal capacity.
“Today we take an important step to a new dawn of power generation,” said David Crane, President and CEO of NRG Energy. “With eSolar demonstrating the commercial viability of solar thermal power on a large scale, and with NRG planning to implement the technology at scale across the Southwest, we will begin to harness the sun to power our lives.”
Streaming live at 10 am PDT and on demand immediately following the event: http://esolar.com/news/video_sierra.