Fire at embattled Ivanpah CSP plant

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near Primm uses more than 300,000 mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers atop 459-foot power towers heating water into steam to create electricity. Image: Associated Press

One of the three towers the 392MW Ivanpah concentrated solar power (CSP) plant is out of action after suffering damage due to a small fire on Thursday morning.

The plant is located on the California-Nevada border near Primm and sustained sufficient damage to now be operating at only a third of its capacity, according to authorities.

The CSP facility uses more than 300,000 mirrors that extend over around five square miles of desert and focus sunlight on boilers atop 459ft thermal power towers to create electricity. The fire has been blamed on misaligned mirrors that focused sunbeams at the wrong area; causing electrical cables to catch fire, according to the San Bernardino County fire department, who arrived at the site after reports of visible flames from the Unit 3 tower near the ninth floor.

Plant personnel fortunately had the fire out by the time the firefighters reached the site. The tower is offline while the damage is assessed and the exact cause is under investigation. Under normal operational conditions, the US$2.2 billion complex provides enough power for 140,000 Californian homes, according to the company.

At the moment, it is unclear when the tower will be back online and what the wider implications for California’s electricity supply will be; particularly given the state's recent energy travails after the four-month long methane leak at Aliso Canyon caused serious blackout concerns. 

This comes as another blow for CSP; particularly in light of Spain’s Abengoa, a CSP specialist, enduring arduous bankruptcy proceedings. In addition, earlier this year, the 500MW Palen plant was written off by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

14 June 2022
Join us in Napa to unlock the key to reliable PV module supply to the U.S. market in 2022 & 2023. We'll also be gathering the main players in the US solar market for some wine tasting!
4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.

Read Next

May 26, 2022
US solar and energy storage developer Borrego will spin off and sell its development business, including its more than 8.4GW PV project pipeline, to investment firm ECP.
May 25, 2022
A round-up of the latest news from the US solar market, including developments from Pivot Energy, Duke Energy and Engie NA.
May 24, 2022
Nextracker will supply 1.5GW of its solar trackers to US independent power producer (IPP) Silicon Ranch as part of a new agreement between the companies.
PV Tech Premium
May 24, 2022
PV Tech Premium spoke with the Clean Energy Associates at this month's Intersolar regarding their traceability protocol, what it expects from ongoing legal battles in the US and the problem with European module procurement.
May 16, 2022
The world added record amounts of renewable energy last year with 295GW of capacity deployed, up 6% year-on-year, despite supply chain constraints, project delays and high commodity prices, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which also expects nearly 320GW to be deployed this year.  
May 13, 2022
Retail giant IKEA has partnered with US residential solar installer SunPower to offer home PV solutions in the US.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
June 7, 2022
Leonardo Royal London City, London, UK
Solar Media Events
June 14, 2022
Napa, USA
Solar Media Events
June 22, 2022
Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, Austin, Texas