First power flows from Ivanpah

The giant Ivanpah solar-thermal project in California’s Mojave Desert has sent its first electricity to the grid as part of a test run for its power-tower technology, said co-owner NRG Energy.

Ivanpah Unit 1 was successfully "synched" to the grid to test its various components, including heliostats and steam generator.

“Given the magnitude and complexity of Ivanpah, it was very important that we successfully complete this milestone showing all systems were on track,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar.

At 377MW, the three-unit Ivanpah will be the largest solar-thermal plant in the world upon completion.

The project is under development by concentrating solar power (CSP) specialist Brightsource Energy, and is being built by EPC giant Bechtel.

Utility PG&E is buying the output from Units 1 and 3, with Southern California Edison signed up for electricity from Unit 2.

NRG’s co-investors in Ivanpah include Google, which sank $168m into the project in 2011.