This week’s CSP Today news brief includes: California Energy Commission, K-Road Power, California Unions for Reliable Energy, Tessera Solar North America; Defenders of Wildlife; HelioFocus, IC Green Energy, Chinese Sanhua, Israel Electric Corp.; TaiQing.
Bill boosts K Road's Calico Solar
The California State Legislature has passed a bill that would allow the K Road Calico Solar Project to bypass mandatory environmental reviews by state and local regulatory agencies.
The California Energy Commission approved last year an earlier iteration of this project. It is being highlighted that even though the project changed ownership from Tessera Solar North America to K-Road Power and also changed in scope, the bill (AB 1073) would send the project straight back to the California Energy Commission.
A change in the project would normally require additional local and state environmental studies to evaluate the impact of the new technology. However, bill AB 1073 means this is no longer a requirement. According to latimes.com, if California Governor Jerry Brown signs the bill as expected, San Bernardino County government will have no formal say in the process.
US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar originally approved the Calico Solar Project in October 2010. The original proposal called for 100% SunCatcher dish-engine technology for the 663.5-MW solar project on 4,613 acres of BLM land. Independent power developer K Road Power’s wholly owned subsidiary K Road Sun acquired the Calico Solar Project from Tessera Solar North America in December 2010. The proposed location is San Bernardino County, north of Interstate 40, about 37 miles east of Barstow.
In August 2011, California Unions for Reliable Energy, a coalition of unions whose members promote the development of power plants in an environmentally responsible manner, collaborated with K Road. It was decided that the project would consist of 563 MW of solar photovoltaic technology and 100.5 MW of Stirling-dish solar thermal technology.
Pressure group slams AB 1073
US-based Defenders of Wildlife say California State Legislature’s decision to pass the AB 1073 bill is a serious setback in the effort to plan for the best renewable energy future for the US and California. The bill would allow a solar-energy project to bypass mandatory environmental reviews by state and local regulatory agencies as a
The decision is related to the Calico solar project. It is slated to be built on some 4,000 acres of environmentally sensitive public lands in Pisgah Valley, according to Defenders of Wildlife, a national, non-profit membership organisation dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. The group says California’s lawmakers have allowed a single developer to bypass environmental laws designed to protect the public’s interest.
The conservation group also says the project poses such a significant threat to the sensitive Pisgah Valley that it comes as no surprise that K-Road Power would push for legislation that short circuits any environmental review that would bring to light the project’s true impacts. The group says the area provides a vital habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, golden eagles, desert big horn sheep species, and other imperiled wildlife.
A number of the nation’s leading conservation groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, recently filed federal lawsuits against the project.
Israel: HelioFocus launches solar booster
HelioFocus, a company owned by IC Green Energy (ICG), the renewable energy investment subsidiary of Israel Corporation, and Chinese Sanhua, has launched a solar booster system for the Ramat Hovav power station in a joint project with the Israel Electric (IEC).
The HelioBooster system is the first boosting facility in the world for existing power stations to deploy dish technology. The inaugurated dish is the first stage of a joint project of Heliofocus with the Israel Electric Corp. for boosting the Ramat-Hovav power station with solar energy.
At the final stage, the Ramat-Hovav power station project will be boosted at about 12MW. HelioFocus and IEC signed a contract for boosting the Ramat Hovav power plant in September 2011. The plant is located in the southern area of Israel. HelioFocus was chosen for its HelioBooster system designed to boost fossil fuel power plants with high temperature solar steam.
HelioFocus, which has raised capital from ICG and Chinese Sanhua, is planning an additional fundraising round in a bid to commercialise the technology in China and Israel.
HelioFocus deploys dish tech in Mongolia
HelioFocus has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to install the first commercial project in Asia for Chinese company TaiQing.
HelioFocus will install a 10MW solar power station for TaiQing in Inner Mongolia.
Installation of the project, estimated at a value of $10m, is expected in 2014 and the first stage will be completed as early as 2013.
HelioFocus highlighted that the Chinese market is characterised by low radiation areas and few solar hours. According to Helioficus CEO, Oren Gadot, the products dual axis tracking mechanism enables the technology to operate at high temperatures even in low radiation conditions due to high concentration ratios, and can therefore produce more hourly annual energy than any other solar-thermal system.