Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station (ISEGS)  |  Case Study

Central Tower Receiver Concentrating Solar Power (CSP):  392 MW

  1. BrightSource Energy’s 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, currently under construction with an expected completion in 2013, will be the world’s largest central tower receiver solar CSP power plant when commissioned.

  1. When Phase 2 of the three unit Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station (ISEGS) is completed in 2013, the facility will nearly double the amount of solar CSP electricity produced in the United States.  The Ivanpah power plant is located in California’s Mohave Desert with access to a remarkably intense solar resource of 2,717 kWh/m2/yr.  This high insolation value allows the plant to have an operating capacity factor of 31.4%, outstanding performance for a solar CSP power plant without energy storage capability.

  2. Built on 3,500 acres and implementing optimized solar field design and tracking, the project will use 25% less land than other solar technologies such as solar PV and parabolic trough solar CSP.  Habitat is impacted minimally with heliostat pylon installation requiring little site grading and minimal use of concrete.  The use of direct steam heat transfer also avoids the use of oils and other synthetic heat transfer fluids which can be environmentally damaging in the case of leaks.

  3. ISEGS received the “2012 Energy Project of the Year Award” at the USC CMAA Green Symposium and “CSP Project of the Year” from Solar Power USA!

  4. Technology

  5. The facility includes a partial-load natural gas-fired steam boiler which will be used for thermal input to the turbine during the morning start-up cycle and will also be operated during transient cloudy conditions in order to maintain turbine on-line status.  ACC (air-cooled condenser) technology allows the ISEGS turbine/generator to be dry-cooled, reducing water usage more than 90% when compared to conventional wet cooling systems.  The ACC system allows water to be re-circulated during energy production and then be reused to clean mirrors.

  6. Project Development

  7. ISEGS is a BrightSource Energy project and is part of about 2,400 MW of thermosolar power generation the company has under contract.  BrightSource Energy is headquartered in Oakland, CA, and has operations in the U.S., Australia, South Africa, and Israel.  Other notable BrightSource projects include the 29 MW Coalinga Demonstration Facility, Israel’s 6 MW Solar Energy Development Center, and planned projects like the 500 MW Hidden Hills SEGS and the 500 MW Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility, both in California.

  8. Levelized Cost of Energy

  9. In 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO 2013) estimated that the best case scenario levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for a generic new commercial-scale thermosolar power plant in an ideal location would be $0.1902/kWh.  In a 2011 report from greentechmedia, “Concentrating Solar:  Ready for Take Off or Stalled on the Launchpad?”, which looked at solar CSP in more detail, power tower CSP (dry cooling, no storage, similar to BrightSource technology) was estimated to have a LCOE of $0.146/kWh.  Specifically, with the completion of the Ivanpah plant in February 2014, the EIA has looked closely at the plant and has detrmined that the LCOE will be between $0.12 to $0.17/kWh. 

  10. Financing

  11. Financing for the project benefited from a $1.6 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee along with investment of $168 million from Google and $300 million from NRG Energy.

  12. References

  13. BrightSource Energy:  Ivanpah Project Sheet

  14. http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/ivanpah

  15. Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System website

  16. http://ivanpahsolar.com/

  17. NREL Concentrating Solar Power Projects:  Ivanpah

  18. http://www.nrel.gov/csp/solarpaces/project_detail.cfm/projectID=62

  19. Wikipedia:  Solar Power Projects in the Mojave Desert

  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_plants_in_the_Mojave_Desert

  21. renewable-technology.com:  Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

  22. http://www.renewable-technology.com/projects/ivanpah-solar-electric-system-california/


  1. Ivanpah Dry Lake, Mohave Desert, California, U.S.A.

Project Status:

  1. Construction start:  October 2010

  2. Phase 1 commissioning:  2012 (expected)

  3. Phase 2 commissioning:  2013 (expected)

Rated Capacity:

  1. 392 MW (Phase 1:  123 MW)

Annual Production:

  1. 1,079 GWh per year (expected)

Capacity Factor:

  1. 31.4% (solar resource:  2,717 kWh/m2/yr)

Carbon Offset:

  1. 400,000 tons (408,000 metric tons) per year


  1. BrightSource Energy


  1. Bechtel

Generation Offtaker:

  1. PG&E and Southern California Edison.  25-year PPA

Generation Technology:

  1. (170,000) dual-axis tracking heliostats (BrightSource LPT solar thermal technology)

  2. Water/ direct steam energy transfer with (3) Siemens SST-900 Rankine-cycle, dry cooled steam turbine gensets


  1. $2.2 billion