The Sierra Sun Tower in Lancaster is an example of how sustainability is always being refined and re-evaluated.

The project revolves around a high tower that has a 60-ton boiler on top. On both the north and south sides of the tower, on the ground level, are 6,000 mirrors that track the sun. Each mirror tracks the sun from sun up to sun down. The main plant pumps water to the top of the tower and the water is then flash boiled to 1,000 degrees. The steam turns a steam turbine and is then collected, cooled, and sent back into the system once again. The power plant generates enough power to run the plant as well as export power onto the local grid without emitting any green house gases.

Sierra Sun Tower

The test site is expected to generate enough electricity to power 4,000 to 5,000 homes in the Antelope Valley.

Installing the boiler was a challenge for the project team. The boiler arrived onsite incomplete. The project team was given four weeks to pre-wire instruments and electrical devices; complicating matters was that the construction team had to make sense of the loose wiring that came with the boiler. There were hundreds of thermowell sensors that arrived un-labeled. The project team identifi ed the wiring and created as-built drawings for the client’s engineering database. The boiler was then lifted to the top of the tower.

Project Team

Owner: e-Solar, Pasadena
General Contractor: Irwin Industries, Long Beach
Design Firm: B&A Engineers Architects Consultants, Kansas City, MO
Electrical Contractor: CSI Electrical Contractors, Inc., Santa Fe Springs