June 3, 2008, eSolar announced that it has been awarded a 20-year power purchase agreement from Southern California Edison (SCE) to build a 245 MW solar thermal power plant. The plant will be built in the Antelope Valley region of southern California and is expected to be operational by 2011. SCE will begin taking the energy in 2012. eSolar’s technology uses thousands of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays onto water-filled receivers on top of towers. The water boils, creating the steam necessary to turn turbines to make electricity.
As we discussed in our June 2008 Connecting to the Grid, eSolar has recently received $130 million of funding from its investors (Google, Idealab, and others) and is pursuing a strategy of building utility-scale solar thermal plants based on a modular design that can be scaled to meet any utility’s need or plant footprint. SCE’s Renewable and Alternative Power Vice President, Stuart Hemphill, says he is “excited about the benefits eSolar’s unique technology and modularity can bring to SCE’s customers.”