Southern California Edison to build 245 MW solar power plants

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Pasadena (CA) - Southern California Edison (SCE) has signed a contract with eSolar to construct solar power plants with a total capacity of 245 MW by 2013.

Solar technology developer eSolar, which recently received $130 million in founding (including $10 million from Google) earlier this year, received its first major contract from SCE. The signed agreement calls for solar power plants built in the Lancaster area in Southern California with a total output of 245 MW. The first plants are scheduled to go into operation by 2011, delivering about 105 MW by 2012. The full capacity is expected to be reached in 2013.  

eSolar is offering complete solar power solutions capable of delivering about 33 MW through a 160-acre installation. Based on this specification, the SCE plant's size may come in at just under 1200 acres (1.9 square miles). eSolar claims that its power plants scale to about 500 MW.

eSolar’s technology is based on pre-fabricated modules consisting of several solar towers each. These towers are associated with thousands of mirrors (heliostats), which can track the sun over the course of the day and reflect light to a receiver at the top of each tower. The concentrated light boils water in a central receiver, routing the steam to a traditional turbine to produce electricity.
SCE claims that it is the nation’s leading purchaser of solar energy, buying more than 90% of U.S. production. SCE said that its current portfolio includes 1025 MW created by wind energy, 906 MW through geothermal sources, 354 MW from solar, 174 MW from biomass and 226 MW from small hydro.

Southern California Edison claims it is the largest electric utility in California, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.