Bechtel will provide engineering, procurement and construction services

Utility scale solar project firm BrightSource Energy has signed engineering giant Bechtel to build a 440MW solar system in California.

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Bechtel will provide engineering, procurement and construction services for the system, which consists of three separate solar thermal plants in a six square mile facility near the California/Nevada border, and will also become an equity investor in the system, sharing the risk.

The plant will use BrightSource’s Luz Power Tower 500 system, combining thousands of mirrors called heliostats to reflect sun onto a boiler on top of a tower.

The heat turns the water to steam, which then powers a steam turbine. The steam is then air cooled and condenses back to water to repeat the cycle, thus conserving desert water.

Some of the procurement has already taken place; BrightSource signed a deal to buy the steam turbine generator from Siemens.

Bechtel will begin building early next year, in two phases. A 110MW plant will precede a second 110MW facility, which will commence six months later in conjunction with a 220MW plant. The first phase will be completed by 2012.

The project is expected to create a thousand jobs at its peak, with 86 permanent jobs once the facility has been completed. Overall, the facility will produce 3,440 jobs over its 40-year lifecycle, and will produce enough energy to offset 450,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, BrightSource said.

BrightSource has three different energy sale contracts established for the plant, and will be providing 2.6GW to Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.

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