SolarReserve has been given the green light from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to sell power from its 150 megawatt solar project under an amended 25-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). According to the company, the Rice Solar Energy Project will be the first large-scale solar project in the state to include energy storage capabilities.
Located in eastern Riverside County, and sited on privately owned and previously disturbed land in the Sonoran Desert, the Rice Solar Energy Project, with eight hours of full power energy storage, should generate more than 450,000 megawatt hours annually of energy – enough to power more than 65,000 homes during peak electricity periods. The solar project will utilize a dry-cooled system to minimize water usage in the desert location resulting in less than 20 percent of the water used per kilowatt of electricity produced by conventional coal or nuclear facilities. Financing activities are underway, and the project is expected to break ground in early of 2014 with commercial operation scheduled for mid-2016.
CPUC Commissioner Ferron said of the project, “In my personal view, projects like the Rice Solar Energy Project will be important to demonstrate that we can firm and shape intermittent renewables with clean technology, not just with fossil technology.”
The hope for the project is that it will be more flexible in terms of being able to support renewable integration to the grid.
“SolarReserve’s market leading technology is a true alternative to conventional generators and can provide firm and reliable electricity as needed by the utility or system operator, day and night,” added SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith. “This capability will be crucial as California progresses towards its 33 percent renewable target. We are also making tremendous strides in exporting this proven U.S. technology worldwide to markets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and our projects in Nevada and California help establish the U.S. as an innovation leader in alternate energy.”