BrightSource Energy has submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) with the California Energy Commission (CEC), which calls for the construction of a 500MW solar project in Inyo County, California. The Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS), located on 3,280 acres of privately owned land next to the California and Nevada border, will consist of two, 250MW solar thermal power plants, which will each have its own solar field and solar power tower. The two CSP plants will generate power for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under two PPA’s that were approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2010.
The company stated that its plans to use its LPT solar thermal energy system at the Hidden Hills SEGS project will minimize the impact to the area’s surrounding environment, with each plant utilizing a taller tower so that a greater concentration of heliostats can be achieved. BrightSource also plans to place mirrors on individual poles that will then be positioned directly into the ground, which the company claims gives the solar plant the ability to be built around the natural forms of the land. Given that the project will be constructed in a desert region, BrightSource advised that it would use an air-cooling system to convert steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle using only 140-acre feet of water per year and therefore conserving water for the region.
“The economic benefits that will be created by the Hidden Hills SEGS are significant, especially in the context of the economic challenges the region continues to face,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst for Applied Analysis, a business advisory services firm that conducted an analysis of the economic and fiscal impacts of the Hidden Hills SEGS. “After doing a detailed analysis of the HHSEGS, we expect the project to directly generate nearly 2,900 jobs related to onsite construction and the fabrication of materials over the two-year construction period, and contribute over US$265 million in local and state taxes over the plant’s lifetime. These new jobs and extra tax revenue will likely have a noticeable impact on the surrounding communities.”