Originally published on CleanTechnica.
A completely innovative technology that is one of the keys to slowing climate change was today allowed by the CPUC to fine-tune energy production. The decision results in no harm to ratepayers.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved PG&E’s December 18 request for a Forbearance Agreement for Ivanpah Units 1 and 3, giving the two units at least six months, and possibly a year, to meet current production targets of 448,000 MWh annually.
In unanimously approving the resolution, the CPUC noted that the plant has “substantially increased” its production.
The production targets escalate for a four-year ramp-up period till 2018, when 640,000 MWh should be generated by the two units under contract with PG&E. But there is a ramp-up period of 4 years.
Under averaged annual generation over its first two years, according to filing documents quoted by KQED’s Pete Danko, Units 1 and 3 were contracted to generate 70% of the 640,000 MWh; or 448,000 MWh.
In the first two years, according to the EIA data seen above, Ivanpah 1 and 3 generated an average between both years of 361,576.5 MWh, falling nearly 20% short of the targeted 448,000 MWh. But 2015 ramped up considerably.
Adding up Ivanpah’s — much improved — 2015 output, generation increased to 433,331 MWh of its 448,000 MWh target; around 97% of the goal.
“There was a more than 50% increase in production during the second year of operation compared to the first,” said Joe Desmond, spokesman for BrightSource, the initial developer and solar technology provider of Ivanpah, now operated by its partner NRG on behalf of Solar Partners (Google was the third partner).
Desmond told Cleantechnica that the Solar Partners are confident the plant can ramp up to full production by 2018 as originally planned.
“Now entering its third year, this first-of-its-kind solar thermal project continues to set new production records,” he said.
In December, PG&E had petitioned the CPUC to approve a Forbearance Agreement between PG&E and Solar Partners, giving more time for Ivanpah Unit #1 and Unit #3 to reach the contracted percentage of targeted generation under the PPA.
PG&E’s contract had envisioned a four-year ramp-up, because of the size and degree of innovation in Ivanpah.
As the largest CSP tower in the world, Ivanpah had over six times the capacity of its only US predecessor at the time. Nevada Solar One, a single tower, was just 60 MW net. (It also used molten salt-based technology, unlike Ivanpah).
Ivanpah was an enormous jump, as the first to use purely water-based thermal power towers, and the world’s largest CSP tower project, going right to 390 MW gross, of which 377 MW is available for net generation to the grid.