BrightSource’s China deal — with storage!

Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, which recently pulled the plug on the last of its proposed California projects, announced Monday that it has signed a joint venture with Shanghai Electric to build utility scale solar thermal projects in China, which is quickly becoming the world’s most important solar market.

In a statement, BrightSource said the joint venture’s first proposal is for the construction of two 135 megawatt (MW) CSP plants as part of the Qinghai Delingha Solar Thermal Power Generation Project, of which the majority owner is Huanghe Hydropower Development Co., Ltd (Huanghe), a subsidiary of the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI).

The proposed Qinghai Delingha Solar Thermal Power Generation Project, in China’s Qinghai province, envisions six 135 MW CSP tower plants. The first phase will include two 135 MW solar thermal plants with thermal energy storage. Construction of the first two plants is expected to begin in 2015 and be completed in 2017.

Unlike the photovoltaic solar panels that are increasingly common on the roofs of homes and commercial buildings, solar thermal technology concentrates the sun’s rays to boil water and generate steam. Solar thermal, also known as concentrating solar power, or CSP, is land-intensive, requires access to transmission lines and typically faces several environmental reviews and permitting hurdles before projects can be built.

One of the criticism’s of BrightSource’s proposed Palen project was that it didn’t have storage enabled from the get go. Now storage seems to be part of all projects moving forward.





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