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.
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
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.
The 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.