Governor Schwarzenegger joined Ausra President, CEO and Chairman Bob Fishman, U.S. Reps. Jim Costa (CA-20) and Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), California Assemblymember Jean Fuller and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) CEO Peter Darbee in launching a new era of solar thermal power with the turning of Ausra's large solar thermal mirrors—harvesting California sunshine and creating California jobs.
"This plant proves that our technology is real, it works, and it's ready to power businesses or provide process steam for industries—now," said Fishman. "Ausra is first on the market, providing customers a dependable, cost-effective solar thermal energy system. Some of the best investment minds in the country have backed our technology and our management team's ability to deliver."
At full output, Kimberlina will be able to generate 5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3,500 homes in central California. The Kimberlina plant is the first solar plant in the country to utilize Ausra's next generation technology, and it is the first solar thermal power plant of any type built in California in nearly 20 years.
"This next generation solar power plant is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay, and it will lead to more California homes and businesses powered by sunshine," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Not only will this large-scale solar facility generate power to help us meet our renewable energy goals, it will also generate new jobs as California continues to pioneer the clean-tech industry."
The Palo Alto, CA-based company, a large-scale solar thermal energy developer and manufacturer, has dropped solar power's costs by simplifying the design of its systems. This also results in the most land-use efficient solar technology. Ausra has demonstrated its ability to manufacture its systems rapidly with a state-of-the-art factory in Las Vegas, NV that can mass produce Ausra's 1,000-foot mirror lines using standard materials to deploy and scale up quickly. The Kimberlina plant was built in seven months.
In addition to providing reliable, cost-effective electricity, the Kimberlina plant also demonstrates Ausra's ability to provide solar mirror fields for industries that need high-temperature steam for their factories, either as retrofits or as part of new plant construction. A range of industries use this "process steam," including: enhanced oil recovery and oil refining; food processing; and pulp and paper manufacturing.
The Kimberlina facility will also serve as the gateway toward developing Ausra's Carrizo Plains solar power plant. In November 2007, Ausra and California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced a power purchase agreement for the 177-megawatt power plant in central California. When completed, Ausra's Carrizo facility will generate enough electricity to power more than 120,000 homes.
Unlike photovoltaic solar panels, which convert the light from the sun into electricity and are commonly rooftop mounted, solar thermal facilities use large fields of mirrors to concentrate and capture the sun's heat, converting it into useful forms of energy. In Ausra's technology, heat is focused on tubes of water to create steam that drives large power turbines, generating clean, reliable electricity and high-temperature, "process" steam for industrial applications.
About Ausra, Inc.
Ausra delivers energy from the sun. The company provides solar power, steam and energy systems for industrial processes and utility-scale electricity generation. The company is a leader in solar thermal energy design, development and manufacturing, and is committed to serving the global energy needs of its customers in a dependable, market-competitive and environmentally responsible manner. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Ausra is a privately held company with operations in the United States and Australia. To learn more about Ausra and solar thermal energy, visit www.ausra.com.