U.S. Company Shelves Solar Thermal Plant as Utility Cancels Contract

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U.S.-based BrightSource Energy has shelved its second major solar thermal project this year as the company and Pacific Gas and Electric terminated the utility’s contract to buy power generated by the plant in south-central California.

In an email, a BrightSource spokesman said the $2.9 billion Hidden Hills project, which would have been built in Inyo County near the Nevada border, was suspended due to “uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades,” Bloomberg News reports, although regulators’ environmental concerns also seemed to play a role.

Like another project canceled by BrightSource earlier this year, the 500-megawatt Hidden Hills plant would have utilized thousands of mirrors reflecting sunlight onto central towers to produce steam. The California Energy Commission, which was reviewing the project, found last year that the solar installation would have “significant” environmental impacts, suggesting that the use of photovoltaic solar panels would be “environmentally superior.”

Officials at BrightSource, which recently completed a solar thermal plant in the Mojave desert, disputed that analysis.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

1 Comment

  1. Solar panels are very delicate and if they are not properly cleaned from time to time then their life span can decrease. Also solar panels can be damaged by excessive heat, so it is very necessary to maintain the temperature.

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