U.S. Department of Energy

    Utility Plans 500-Megawatt Solar Thermal Project in California

    August 17, 2005

    A photo of a field of dish Stirling systems, each composed of nearly 100 mirrored squares combined into a dish shape and mounted on a pillar, reflecting the sky and clouds.
An arm of metal gridwork extends from the center of each mirror and holds the Stirling engine, a dark metal cylinder.

    The new solar facility near Los Angeles will consist of a field of dish Stirling systems.
    Credit: Randy J. Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories

    Southern California Edison (SCE) and Stirling Energy Systems signed a 20-year power purchase agreement on August 9th that calls for a 4,500-acre solar generating station to be built 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The 500-megawatt Stirling dish project includes an option to expand the project to 850 megawatts and is awaiting the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.

    The project will be the first application of Stirling dish technology in the commercial electricity generation field. Stirling dish technology converts solar thermal energy to electricity by using a dish-shaped array of mirrors to focus the sun's rays on the receiver end of a Stirling engine. The internal side of the receiver then heats hydrogen gas, causing it to expand. The expanding gas creates pressure that drives a piston, which turns a small electricity generator. See the press release from Edison International, the parent company of SCE.