Power giant tries solar

NRG, the second largest electricity generator in Texas, has inked a deal with eSolar to develop up to 500 megawatts of power in California and the Southwest with solar technology.
The company is putting $10 million into three projects that at peak capacity could power up to 400,000 homes.
The first plant in California is expected to be operating in 2011. NRG and eSolar are still scouting potential sites in the Southwest for other solar generating units. Texas is a possibility.
The deal is NRG’s first foray into solar power. Last fall the company brought 200 megawatts of wind power to the grid in Texas, including a wind farm near Big Spring and a joint-venture with BP Wind near Fort Stockton. NRG also operates natural gas, coal and nuclear-fired power plants across the state that generate close to 11,000 megawatts.
eSolar, which is backed by funding and technological partnerships with Idealab, Google.org and Oak Investment Partners, employs concentrating solar power (CSP) technology which uses modular design to allow for better scalability, lower construction costs and faster development times.
eSolar is currently completing construction on a commercial test CSP plant in Southern California, which will be the first solar thermal power tower plant built in the U.S.
In a written statement, eSolar CEO Bill Gross said, “eSolar’s breakthrough modular power plants use more software and less steel to allow solar energy to be competitive with fossil fuels for the first time ever. NRG Energy’s extensive project skills and focus on advancing a diverse portfolio of energy generation technology will help accelerate the deployment of eSolar’s CSP technology in locations across the US.”