BrightSource Energy is a progressive company building Utility scale renewable energy projects. Since its founding in 2004, BrightSource has signed a record number of solar PPAs – long term power purchase agreements. They have contracted to deliver approximately 2.6 GW of installed capacity, in 14 PPAs, to California’s biggest utilities, PG&E, which serves 15 million customers, and to Southern California Edison, which has been the only one of the three major California utilities to meet its (20%) 2010 renewable energy targets on time.
Brightsource has some amazing strategies to create electricity. Thousands of mirrors reflect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity. This fully integrated approach produces low-cost solar power, while providing similar reliability characteristics found in conventional power plants.
What does this mean for you???
If you live in California you will be buying power from your local utility that was produced in their renewable solar farm. As a matter of fact, they will be producing approximately 13% of all of California’s electricity in the near future. BrightSource Energy has control of approximately 110,000 acres suitable for solar development in California and the U.S. Southwest with the potential to produce approximately 11 GW (11,000 MW) of installed capacity. The total electricity consumption here in California is approximately 80GW.
SCE has already signed into PPA (power purchase agreement) which will allow it to reach the 33% renewable standard set forth by the state legislatures. This will ultimately equate to rate hikes across the board here in California. These large scale capital expenditures in the desert are much more costly then the traditional coal fired plant, thus Edison has to pay a premium for this power it is important and they pass that cost onto all of its residential customers in the form of rate increases.
One way or another you will be consuming solar electricity in your home here in California. Its just your decision if you want to buy it from Edison or off your own roof!
BrightSource has reported it will have an IPO in the short term future. Keep your eye out for this as it is an excellent investment opportunity.