On 24 September Unit 1 of what, at 380 MW, will be the world’s largest solar thermal project reached a major milestone when it successfully achieved synchronisation to the grid for the first time, confirming operational readiness of the project which is jointly owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google.

"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. This successful test demonstrates the effectiveness of the station’s power tower technology, which includes large heliostats that track the sun, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator.

Power generated from Ivanpah’s initial sync testing will go to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which has a power purchase agreement (PPA) for energy produced out of the plant’s Unit 1 station. Power generated from Ivanpah’s Unit 3 station is also sold under a PPA with PG&E, while Unit 2 is under a PPA with Southern California Edison. Proof-of-concept testing will also be conducted at Unit 2 and 3 in the coming months.