Frequently Asked Questions
The project is being developed to provide a sustainable, renewable, cost-effective source of electricity using a unique technology which can capture solar energy throughout the day, store the energy, and schedule electricity production to occur whenever it is needed-during hours of peak electricity demand, or during evening or nighttime hours. The storage system allows the project to generate a stable power supply that will enhance electricity grid stability and facilitate wider use of intermittent renewable sources such as wind energy.
The project will also help the state of California meet its mandate to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standards to 33% renewable energy generation by 2020. Read more about Executive Order S-14-08
California has some of the best solar resources available in the world. Solar energy can supplement other resources to serve the country's need for clean, affordable domestic energy supplies and help sustain continued economic development. This site is located on previously disturbed private land in a largely undeveloped area with good site access. The nearest residences are located 15 miles to the west of the proposed project site. A new 10-mile long transmission line will interconnect the project to Western Area Power Administration’s existing transmission system. The transmission line will be located on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. BLM manages the public lands for multiple uses but recognizes that a significant number of public lands have levels of solar radiation suitable for utility-scale solar power plant development. Development of renewable energy resources is considered a beneficial public use of these lands and BLM’s policy is to facilitate environmentally responsible renewable energy development, consistent with national and state leadership goals for renewable energy.
The tower will be a concrete structure, approximately 553 feet high, on which a receiver approximately 100 feet tall is mounted. A maintenance crane will be mounted on top of the receiver, for an overall height of 653 feet. The proposed tower height was established by an economic optimization study to determine the lowest cost of electricity production. As the tower grows taller, the plant efficiency increases.
The project will have a large circular field of mirrors (heliostats). At the center of the field will be a tall, central receiver tower and the power block. The tall tower increases the efficiency of the plant and ensures that the large array of heliostats can focus the solar energy onto the receiver mounted on top of the tower. As part of the environmental review process, visual simulations have been prepared and submitted to the regulatory agencies to show how the project will look to viewers from several locations.
During the day, the receiver (which is mounted on top of the tower) will glow as it absorbs solar energy. There will be no solar energy at night, so the receiver will not operate. The plant will be designed with downcast lighting to minimize light pollution and will be limited at night only as necessary for worker safety. The FAA will require lighting systems on the tower (similar to those required by the FAA for communication towers).