Ivanpah Project and Local Community Colleges Partner for Educational Opportunities
Last week, two local community colleges partnered with Ivanpah project owners to provide additional training for existing workers at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Approximately 50 workers with backgrounds in general power plant operations attended a two-day workshop held at the project site to learn more about the specifics of solar thermal tower technology.
The workshop was led by Sandia National Laboratories’ James Pacheco, an expert in central tower technology, and specialists from San Bernardino County-based Barstow Community College and Riverside County-based College of the Desert’s Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy (ATTE) Center. The workshop covered solar thermal principles, CSP tower systems and plant operation issues. In particular, attendees learned about: basic theory of operation, basic construction and design, major system operations, interconnected systems, startup and shutdown, response to weather changes, water chemistry and plant performance measurements.
The Ivanpah project owners – NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource – work closely with Barstow Community College and College of the Desert to provide curriculum and training to prepare individuals for careers in the concentrated solar power (CSP) field. Barstow Community College currently offers a course that focuses on CSP and industrial maintenance mechanics, which includes more than 350 hours of training. The Ivanpah project partners provide guest speakers for the course who discuss various aspects of plant construction and operation. The course provides the skills needed to perform the ongoing operations and maintenance that will be required by the Ivanpah plant and similar CSP plants throughout the region.
“Our goal is to work closely with projects like Ivanpah to understand the needs of the plant, develop the appropriate curriculum and provide that specific, relevant job training for the local communities,” said Larry McLaughlin of the College of the Desert, ATTE. “Training the existing workforce to perform the jobs that are needed at these plants is both good for the community and good for the solar power plants.”
The Ivanpah project, which recently reached the peak of construction employment, is helping to grow Southern California’s High Desert economy. To date, the project’s construction partner Bechtel has retained more than 2,100 construction workers to build the plant, in addition to the more than 100 engineering and support staff on site.