February 25, 2009
NRG Energy Enters Solar Field with Investment in Solar Power Plants
by Robert Kropp
Investment by NRG will help eSolar build three solar power plants using concentrating solar power
NRG Energy, a wholesale power generation
company whose portfolio of 48 power plants include natural gas, coal, oil-fired, nuclear, and wind
facilities, has signed an agreement with eSolar, a developer of solar thermal power plants using
concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, to develop solar power plants with a total generation
capacity of up to 500 megawatts (MW) in California and the Southwest.
At peak capacity the plants will be capable of
powering 400,000 homes with 100% renewable energy.
NRG will invest approximately $10
million for equity and development rights for three projects on sites in south central California
and the Southwest US where eSolar's CSP technology will be used to sell renewable electricity under
contracted power purchase agreements (PPAs) with local utilities seeking competitively priced,
zero-carbon solar power.
CSP plants generate electric power by using mirrors to
concentrate the sun's energy and convert it into high-temperature heat. That heat is then channeled
through a conventional generator. CSP technologies require large areas for solar radiation
collection when used to produce electricity at commercial scale.
eSolar is in the process
of completing its first commercial demonstration CSP plant in Southern California, which will be
the first fully functioning solar thermal power plant built in the United States.
agreement marks NRG’s first venture into solar power. A member of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP),an alliance of
business and environmental groups that support legislation requiring significant reductions of
greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006 NRG launched a $16 billion repowering program to develop over
10,000 MW of efficient and environmentally responsible new power generation.
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