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Feb
2012
23

Ivanpah Solar Project to Create Over 1,400 Union Jobs, Double U.S. Output of Thermal Electricity



The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has been awarded the CSP Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA. The plant, currently being built in the Mojave desert, is going to become the largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in the world upon completion. It will double the United States’ output of thermal electricity production:

“[The] Ivanpah Project has helped advance technology in the industry, shown us new ways to secure financing, and is setting records and inspiring the industry,” said Laura Dinnewell, Director of Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference. “The project has secured not only a US Department of Energy loan guarantee, but also $168 million from Google and $300 million for NRG Energy as equity investors. Ivanpah offers a great example of how a large-scale project, if well structured, can still attract the necessary investment to succeed.”

“Ivanpah serves as an industry model in achieving reliable, cost-effective and environmentally- responsible clean energy at utility-scale. On behalf of the Ivanpah project, including our partners NRG Energy, Google and Bechtel, we are honored to receive this award from Solar Power Generation USA,” said Mike Bobinecz, Ivanpah Project Director and Vice President, BrightSource Construction Management, BrightSource Energy. “We look forward to completing this important solar power facility and bringing California one giant step closer toward its goal of producing 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

The plant has brought an estimated 1,600 jobs to the area, many of which are union jobs with wages negotiated under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA):

BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that construction of the Ivanpah project will require approximately over 1,400 union jobs at the peak of construction. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California’s local workforce benefits from the project. The project will also provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life.

On top of its job and clean energy producing accomplishments, the project has been touted as highly environment-friendly:

The Ivanpah project will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road. BrightSource’s system is also designed to minimize impacts on the natural environment. In addition to being one of the most land-efficient renewable energy technologies, BrightSource’s low impact heliostat layout is flexible, allowing the solar field to be built around the natural contours of the land and avoid areas of sensitive vegetation.

And in order to conserve scarce water resources, the technology employs an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using air-cooling, BrightSource’s technology uses more than 90 percent less water than older technology parabolic trough plants with wet cooling.

High-tech projects like the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, with a PLA in place to ensure fair wages and diversity of hires, can be viewed as the model for joining quality job-creation with the sought after clean energy exploits America has a chance to turn to in coming decades.

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