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Greek isle taps BrightSource for solar

The island of Crete is building a 38-megwatt plant using BrightSource thermal solar technology.

BrightSource has been tapped to build its LPT 550 solar thermal 'power tower' system for the island of Crete, Greece.

The Greek island of Crete is planning for a 38-megawatt solar plant an BrightSource has been tapped to help build it.

Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource has signed a deal with Nur Energie, the U.K. company developing the solar project, to use its LPT 550 energy system, the solar manufacturer announced today.

When complete and running at full capacity, the plant is expected to generate enough electricity for 13,000 homes.

BrightSource is known for its signature solar "power tower" technology that employs hundreds of sun-worshipping heliostats. The solar-tracking mirrors reflect solar rays on a common tower containing a boiler. The liquid inside the tower's boiler is heated to produce a high temperature steam. The steam power is used to drive a turbine-powered generator to make electricity.

The company seems to be taking a proactive approach to addressing water concerns.

BrightSource's 392-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Project slated for construction this fall on public lands in Southern California's Mojave Desert has come up against environmental concerns over water use. The company received approval from the Bureau of Land Management to build on public lands and approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission for its power purchase agreements, but conservationists voiced concerns over water use. In response, BrightSource pointed out that using a dry air-cooling system, as opposed to a water cooling system, its system uses less water than a conventional solar project might, and the Ivanpah project is expected to use only 100 acre-feet of water per year, according to BrightSource.

With this project, BrightSource has put that information out front and center.

"In order to conserve precious desert water, LPT 550 uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 95 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling in competing technologies. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed process," the company said in a statement.