Following on from an announcement to create a 65 million square foot solar panel installation, Southern California Edison (SCE) is now planning to purchase 245MW of solar power from eSolar through a series of pre-fab solar plants, also in California.
eSolar produces scalable solar thermal power plants with the goal of pursuing a novel approach to large or utility-scale solar projects. This latest announcement comes off the back of a US$130 million funding boost received in April. The company says its modular design is geared towards achieving economies of scale by focusing on the key issues facing large solar installations – price, speed of deployment and grid impact.
The eSolar system incorporates thousands of systematically spaced heliostats that form a modular field comprised of north and south facing mirror sub-fields. Both mirror fields concentrate sunlight to a patented dual-port receiver atop a central tower. The sub-field design optimizes the layout to maximize the harvested thermal energy. Each modular 33 MW eSolar power unit consists of thirteen towers (each with its own north-south heliostat sub-field), a turbine generator set and a steam condenser.
The planned 245MW of power to be produced by eSolar from the pre-fab plants will by bought by SCE via a power purchase agreement. The series of fully operational plants to be located in the in the Antelope Valley region of Southern California will begin production in 2011.