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BrightSource Energy pushes for Palen Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) reopen


 
 
2014/03/29
 
     

 



BrightSource Energy and Abengoa are pushing to get Palen back on the drawing table, after attempting to address the California regulators concerns about the proposed 500 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project.

BrightSource Energy and Abengoa are pushing to get Palen back on the drawing table, after attempting to address the California regulator’s concerns about the proposed 500 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project.

Last December the California Energy Commission preliminarily rejected Palen – which was switched from parabolic-trough to power-tower CSP technology after BrightSource acquired the project from Solar Millennium – on environmental and cultural grounds.

But in January the regulator agreed to merely suspend the project, rather than deny it outright, while BrightSource and Abengoa worked to address its outstanding concerns.

Palen Solar Holdings – the project company owned by BrightSource and Abengoa Solar – has now formally requested that the regulator reopen the evidentiary record on Palen, opening the door for the project to get back on track.

In its request, formally considered a motion to reopen the evidentiary record on Palen, PSH asks the CEC to restart consideration of the project, with the discussion incorporating information the company has provided the agency since January.

The new information has been provided based on suggestions in the December CEC document that recommended against approving the power tower project. In that document, called the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision, CEC commissioner Karen Douglas cited concerns about burn injuries to birds from the project's concentrated solar flux, as well as the project's impact on local cultural resources and the fact that the project as described lacked capacity to generate power after dark by storing the sun's heat.

The CEC had previously approved a solar thermal power plant on the site that would have used parabolic trough mirrors to concentrate solar energy on a thermal transfer fluid. The original backer of the project, Solar Millennium, sold the project to BrightSource after it went bankrupt in 2012. BrightSource redesigned the plant, and it's those design changes that were the subject of the negative Proposed Decision due to their perceived environmental and cultural impacts.

In the Motion to Reopen, PSH cites new data provided to the CEC on comparative bird mortality at BrightSource's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, along with NextEra's Genesis Desert Sunlight solar projects. Ivanpah, which went online in February, is of similar (though significantly smaller-scale) design as the proposed Palen project, with tens of thousands of mirrored heliostats reflecting sunlight toward three power towers.