The remarkable teamwork of over 2,000 hardworking men and women of Ivanpah have accomplished a great feat: the 100,000th heliostat has been installed at Ivanpah! Now, more than half of the site’s total 173,500 heliostats have been assembled on site and installed in the solar fields.
The Ivanpah facility is more than 75% complete and installation in the solar fields has increased rapidly as we approach the finish line. The heliostat installation team has been busy adding as many as 858 heliostats in a single day to the fields at Ivanpah to ensure timely start up of the facility.
Ivanpah Solar Partners Solar Field Manager Hagai Huss has been building heliostats since 2009 at the Chevron solar-to-steam plant in Coalinga, California, which uses BrightSource’s technology. The Coalinga plant produces 29 megawatts of thermal energy using fewer than 4,000 heliostats. Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal electric plant, has 43 times more heliostats than the facility at Coalinga. To put that into perspective, Hagai explains “We are producing and installing a Coalinga sized solar field every week at Ivanpah.”
A few lessons have been learned on the way to 100,000. “Keeping a balance of inventory between the assembly buildings and solar field was a challenge early on,” Hagai said. “The assembly and installation teams work on different schedules and have varying external factors that affect production, so communication is crucial to staying on schedule.”
One challenge was the high desert winds, Hagai noted, which prohibit the installation of heliostats for safety reasons. “The installation team began running shifts in the middle of the night, when the winds aren’t so intense,” he said, “that was a huge improvement that helped us stay on schedule.”
The next steps are to integrate the brains of the heliostats and the solar field control system, enabling the heliostats to track the sun’s rays and interact with the solar receiver steam generator. After installation, the heliostats are connected to a local Communication & Power Distribution Unit (CPDU), which powers the heliostats’ tracking system. All of the CPDUs at Unit 1 have now been connected and the team is connecting heliostats at Unit 2 as heliostat installation nears completion.
The 100,000 heliostat mark is a great accomplishment and an important milestone for the workers at Ivanpah. “I am so proud to be a part of the Ivanpah project, the clean energy generated here will provide lasting benefits to California for decades to come,” said Hagai, “We’re not there yet, but we are well on our way.”
Ivanpah Project Reaches Three-Quarters Completion Mark
A stunning photo of Ivanpah at sunrise captured by Ivanpah construction worker and photographer Chad Ward.
Thanks to the hard work of the more than 2,100 construction workers currently at Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal energy project is more than 75% complete. Several new photos below show recent progress at the site and the workers who make it all possible.
The construction workers of Ivanpah have assembled, installed and welded their way to a project that is over three-quarters complete. Despite the early mornings, long days and late nights, the Ivanpah construction team embraced the spirit of the holiday season and made a generous donation to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
The team continues to push ahead with heliostat assemblies, regularly completing over 500 heliostats each day. More than 14,000 assemblies were completed in November alone! In early December, the team hit an impressive milestone – 100,000 heliostats installed in the solar fields. Only 73,500 more to go.
Ivanpah Unit 1
The solar field team continues commissioning the heliostats in advance of system start up. During commissioning, project electricians wire heliostats together and connect them to the communication and power distribution units (CPDUs). BrightSource technicians then calibrate each individual heliostat with the BrightSource SFINCS (Solar Field Integrated Control System) software to ensure accurate aiming at the boiler. As construction in the power block area is completed in the next couple of months, the laydown area for power block materials will be cleared and the remaining pylons and heliostats will be installed.
In the Unit 1 power block area, the team is working to commission various systems that support the boiler, including pumps, feed water systems, fuel gas system and auxiliary boiler. Next, the team will complete a chemical cleaning of the boiler’s evaporator section and conduct the first steam blow. On the ground, the air cooled condenser (ACC) is nearly ready for an air test to confirm the integrity of piping and checking for leaks.
Ivanpah Unit 2 and Unit 3 in the distance
In the Unit 2 solar field, more than 56,000 pylons and 43,000 heliostats have been installed. In the upcoming months, the team will begin commissioning the Unit 2 heliostats and calibrating them with the SFINCS software.
In the power block area, the hydrostatic test of the boiler was complete in December, which confirmed the integrity of the boiler by pressurizing it with water to check for leaks. In early 2013, the boiler’s evaporator section will be chemical cleaned in preparation for operation. On the ground, the construction of the ACC remains ongoing. The team continues installing the remaining “balance of plant” equipment in the power block area, such as water treatment tanks, piping, electrical breakers and transformers.
In the Unit 3 solar field, the team has ramped up heliostat installations, installing more than 8,000 heliostats in the last month. More than 23,000 pylons are currently installed. In the power block area, boilermakers continue welding the interconnecting boiler pipe and wall panels. On the ground, construction is steadily progressing on the ACC, the plant services building, and the auxiliary boiler.
Ivanpah Workers, Their Families, and Staff Celebrate Progress Made on the Project
Last month, Ivanpah engineering, procurement and construction contractor Bechtel welcomed more than 3,500 people to celebrate Family Day at the site. Open to all workers associated with the Ivanpah project, the event provided a rare opportunity for employees to show their loved ones the world’s largest concentrating solar plant under construction to their loved ones. View our video from Family Day and read our blog post for more details!
Ivanpah Featured in Smithsonian Magazine!
Grab a copy of the November issue of Smithsonian Magazine A stunning photo of the Ivanpah project is featured alongside a short article. Snapped by photographer Gilles Mingasson, the photo provides a unique close up aerial view of the Unit 1 power tower area surrounded by thousands of heliostats.
Construction of Ivanpah is 67 percent complete! The project continues to employ more than 2,100 construction workers and support staff, and remains on track to be completed in 2013.
In the Common Area, the Pad Bonding Buildings (PBBs) and the Heliostat Assembly Building (HAB) continue to operate above full production capacity, assembling more than 500 heliostats each day. As of early October, the team has installed over 117,000 steel pylons and 77,000 heliostats. The permanent administration building is now complete and is occupied by the operations staff. Southern California Edison completed the 115 kV interim interconnection and Kern River Gas Transmission completed the natural gas tie-in to Ivanpah.
A close view of first flux aimed at the Unit 1 solar receiver.
In September, the solar field team successfully aimed three heliostats at the boiler protection panels (white area) of the Unit 1 tower, creating a visible spot on the panels (see photo at left). When the plant is operational, heliostats will be aimed at the black boiler panels that are comprised of many tubes containing water/steam.
Overall, nearly 50,000 pylons and 50,000 heliostats are installed in Unit 1. The solar field commissioning process continues with electricians wiring heliostats together and connecting them to the communication and power distribution units, or CPDU’s. The team is also busy calibrating individual heliostats with the BrightSource SFINCS (Solar Field Integrated Control System), the software that aims the heliostats at the tower with extreme accuracy.
In the Unit 1 power block area, boilermakers completed the installation and welding of boiler piping and erection of the wall panels. The team also successfully completed the critical hydrostatic test to confirm the integrity of the boiler by pressurizing the boiler with water to check for leaks. The next step in preparing the boiler for operation is to conduct a chemical cleaning of the boiler’s evaporator section.
On the ground, construction of the air-cooled condenser (ACC) continues with significant progress made on the main steam turbine exhaust duct and wall siding. The team continues installing the remaining “balance of plant” equipment in the power block area, such as water treatment tanks, piping, electrical breakers and transformers.
A view of Unit 1 (background) and the Unit 2 solar field (foreground) from the top of the Unit 2 tower.
In the Unit 2 power block area, boilermakers continue welding the interconnecting boiler pipe and wall panels. The hydrostatic test is scheduled to take place by the end of the year. On the ground, the construction of the ACC is ongoing, and the plant services building is complete. In the Unit 2 solar field, more than 56,000 pylons and 28,000 heliostats have been installed. The team initiated the cable installation work necessary to support wiring of the heliostats together and connect them to the CPDU’s.
In the Unit 3 power block area, boilermakers are now welding the interconnecting boiler pipe and wall panels. On the ground, construction continues on the ACC, the plant services building, and the auxiliary boiler. The steam turbine generator was delivered and aligned in early September.
Below are the latest satellite images of the Ivanpah project, showing the steady progress of the solar fields. The Bechtel construction team continues to install over 500 heliostats each day. The first image below shows the Ivanpah site in its entirety.
The second image shows the Unit 1 Solar Field, shining at more than 90% complete. More than 49,000 pylons and 49,000 heliostats have been installed. The remaining pylons and heliostats will be installed upon the completion of construction in the adjacent to the power block area.
The third image shows the Unit 2 Solar Field, with more than 56,000 pylons and 26,000 heliostats installed.
The fourth image shows the Unit 3 Solar Field, with more than 7,000 pylons and just a few heliostats installed. The aerial view of Unit 3 shows how the solar field design is flexible and able to accommodate the natural features of the Ivanpah Valley.
Check back soon for new satellite images!
« Older posts
Newer posts »
On Saturday, September 29, Ivanpah construction contractor Bechtel welcomed more than 3,500 people to celebrate Family Day at the site. Open to all workers associated with the Ivanpah project, Family Day was a rare opportunity for employees to show off the world’s largest concentrating solar plant under construction to their loved ones. Project partners NRG Energy and BrightSource Energy, along with Bechtel and some of the site represented union craft groups, set up informational booths and various displays in the project’s Common Area to educate attendees about their role in the construction of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and how it will provide reliable, renewable energy to Californians.
Attendees experienced the project and its technology firsthand through guided tours of the Unit 1 power block and Heliostat Assembly Building (HAB) and Pad Bonding Buildings (PBB). Four buses took turns driving attendees to the center of the first, most complete unit, where enthusiastic Bechtel employees greeted each caravan and answered questions throughout the walking tour around the power block. The tour concluded in the HAB and PBB as Bechtel representatives proudly explained the intricate details of the heliostat assembly.
Back at the Common Area, event-goers learned about the flora and fauna of the desert landscape from the site’s biologists, who displayed snakes and plants native to the area. Bechtel’s booth featured a cardboard cutout of a well-outfitted workman to educate attendees about the personal protection equipment required at the worksite. Children had fun pretending to drive Caterpillar’s heavy equipment, including a pylon auger and bobcat. The face-painting and balloon artists at NRG’s booth were a big hit with all kids. BrightSource handed out sunscreen and temporary water-free tattoos, while talking about the project’s advanced technology and minimized environmental impact to interested attendees.
Enjoy photos from the event below!