US: PPA for 150 MW solar thermal project approved by CPUC

The solar thermal project will be located on private land located 30 miles northwest of the city of Blythe in eastern Riverside County, California.

When completed, SolarReserve says the facility will supply approximately 450,000-megawatt hours of electricity annually – enough to power up to 68,000 homes during peak electricity periods – utilizing its “innovative” energy storage capabilities.

The company adds that by using “advanced” molten salt system technology, which is under "exclusive" worldwide license from United Technologies Corporation, the Rice Solar Energy Project has the ability to store 10 hours of solar energy. Consequently, it states, it has the capacity to generate electricity during cloud cover or after the sun has gone down, as well as the ability to shift power production to meet peak demand periods.

“This energy storage capability provides a stable, reliable electricity product similar to that of conventional fuel-burning power facilities,” said the company in a statement.

Furthermore, the company says that the project will not require supplemental natural gas, with the associated emissions, for periods of cloud cover or start up operations: this has reportedly helped it obtain fast track status to move on a priority basis through the California Energy Commission’s licensing process. SolarReserve says it hopes to receive all approvals for the project by the end of the year.

“The California Public Utilities Commission’s approval represents an important milestone in bringing non-intermittent renewable energy assets online to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standards and green house gas emission reduction targets,” said Kevin Smith, SolarReserve’s CEO.