eSolar’s Award-Winning Plant Powers SoCal

Last December, eSolar’s Sierra SunTowersolar power plant won Power Engineering Magazine’s “Best Renewable andSustainable Project” award for 2009. The distinguished award is one offour the magazine gives out each year to projects in one of thefollowing categories: gas-fired, coal-fired, nuclear and renewable.

Located 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles in Lancaster,California, the 5-megawatt commercial solar plant began operation inAugust of last year. It’s the first of its kind in California, a statethat continues to gain recognition as a hotbed for solar energyinnovation. The SunTower is unique because of its ability to transformthe sun’s rays to generate super-heated, high-pressure steam — we’retalking temperatures upwards of 800° F and a pressure of 900pounds-per-square inch. The steam is then used to drive a turbine,which in turn generates electricity for Southern California Edison(SCE), a northern branch of Edison International that provideselectricity to central, coastal and southern California. The plant is amajor component to Lancaster’s 2030 General Plan, which aims to create fertile ground for renewable energy projects.

According to Pasadena-based eSolar, the plant addresses many of theissues that have hindered growth in solar thermal power generation,including challenges relating to environmental sustainability, cost andspeed of development. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pointedto the new eSolar plant as an example of “carbon-free, cost-efficientenergy that can be used around the world.”

In related news, not only is eSolar racking up the awards for itsnew solar thermal projects, it’s also gaining the attention (andinvestment) of many heavy hitters in the financial world. As relayed yesterday by MarketWire,eSolar topped the Wall Street Journal’s recently released list ofventure-backed clean technology companies. eSolar came in at numberthree.

And, finally, from the GetSolar archives, be sure to check out thefollowing post (from April 2008) about Google’s initial investment ineSolar. The post is called “Large Corporations Investing in Solar.”

eSolar’s Award-Winning Plant Powers SoCal, Lures VC

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