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eSolar lands solar power plant deal

Southern California Edison will purchase 245 megawatts of electricity from eSolar's concentrating solar thermal plants.

eSolar on Tuesday said that it will build solar thermal power plants that will make 245 megawatts of electricity for Southern California Edison.

The plants will be built in the Antelope Valley of Southern California and begin operating in 2011.

Coming to California: eSolar's heliostat and thermal receiver-based solar power plants. eSolar

The company, created by Idealabs and funded by Google.org, makes utility-scale concentrating solar power systems with a modular design.

Software-controlled heliostats, or mirrors, reflect light onto a tower where the heat turns water to steam that turns a turbine.

The company raised $130 million in April.

California is a hotbed for utility-scale solar power because the state has relatively aggressive renewable energy targets.

The state's renewable portfolio standard mandates that utilities generate 20 percent of their electricity by 2010 and 33 percent by 2012.

In desert areas like parts of Southern California, concentrating solar thermal technology has become the preferred renewable energy source.

eSolar's technology, however, is a break with the traditional reflective trough now used in a number of power plants around the world.

eSolar says that its heliostat and thermal receiver design cuts down on costs in different areas such as using prefabricated heliostats.