July 26, 2007, Updated September 13, 2012

A Solel solar power plant – ‘Our proven solar technology means Solel can economically turn the energy of the warm California sun into clean power for the state’s homes and businesses.’

An Israeli company is doing its part to help Americans develop renewable, environmentally-friendly energy, and at the same time reduce dependence on foreign oil. Beit Shemesh-based Solel has announced that it has signed a contract with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to build the world’s largest solar plant – to be established in California’s Mojave Desert.

The project will deliver 553 megawatts of solar power, the equivalent of powering 400,000 homes, to PG&E’s customers in northern and central California. When fully operational in 2011, the Mojave Solar Park plant will cover up to 6,000 acres in the Mojave Desert.

Solel is working closely with URS Corporation in the development of the park, which when completed will rely on 1.2 million mirrors and 317 miles of vacuum tubing to capture the desert sun’s heat.

An earlier, still active, Solel project in California has already been reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil by 2 million barrels. Many analysts believe that reducing dependence on foreign oil will reduce America’s exposure to volatile politics in the Middle East. Additionally, global environmental treaties mandate reductions in fossil fuel emissions. Some observers around the world view America, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide (emitting over 20% of the world’s emissions), as not taking sufficient strides to reduce carbon emissions.

“Through the agreement with Solel, we can harness the sun’s climate-friendly power to provide our customers with reliable and cost-effective energy on an unprecedented scale,” said Fong Wan, vice president of Energy Procurement, PG&E.

The deal will increase the amount of PG&E’s future power supply that comes from renewable energy to eighteen percent. The state of California has mandated that power providers provide at least twenty percent of their supply from renewable energy sources by 2010.

“The solar thermal project announced today is another major milestone in realizing our goal to supply 20 percent of our customers’ energy needs with clean renewable energy,” said Wan.

The plant utilizes patented technology from Solel. Over the past twenty years, this unique solar thermal parabolic trough technology has powered nine solar power plants in the Mojave Desert. These parabolic mirrors transfer heat to a liquid that runs steam-powered turbines, which put electricity onto the power grid.

Solel has previously constructed the world’s largest power stations in California and has plans to build what had previously been billed as the world’s largest solar station in Israel’s Negev region. The plant in California will be larger than the previous California plants and the new Israeli plant. Solel also aids solar plants in the United States and Spain and is working with a Spanish partner to build solar power plants in Spain. According to the company, a solar thermal plant built on just one percent of the surface of the Sahara Desert could provide the entire world’s electricity demands.

“We are thrilled to bring 553 MW of clean energy to California,” said Avi Brenmiller, chief executive officer of Solel Solar Systems. “Our proven solar technology means Solel can economically turn the energy of the warm California sun into clean power for the state’s homes and businesses.”


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