It may only have had a capacity of 14MW but the iconic Solar Energy Generating Systems I (SEGS I) project in California commissioned in 1984 lay the foundations for a rich tradition of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

The Daggett based project is a far cry from the 459ft landscape-dominating Ivanpah towers which now mark the Mojave Desert. However the project bought by Cogentrix Energy in 2009 was the first step in a defining line of  CSP projects.

In an interview with CSP Today Researcher Marco Geraghty he said that, ‘Now is very much a time for reflection within U.S. CSP, not only is it 30 years since the first power output from a utility scale CSP plant but this is also the year where the huge investment in utility scale CSP is set to come to fruition.’ He added that, ‘Abengoa’s Solana project with 6 hours storage capacity shows just how far the technology has come and the baseload options it now opens up to the grid. All the hype surrounding the recent opening of Ivanpah shows the excitement which CSP can still generate and the potential it has in the future of the U.S. energy mix’.

SEGS I & II were the first two utility scale trough plants in the world and began service in 1984 and 1985. Their longevity is evident as their annual output of up to 43MW continues to be purchased by Southern California Edison. SEGS I-IX has a combined output of 354MW and was the largest solar thermal energy generating system in the world until the recent opening of the 392MW Ivanpah plant. Geraghty added that, ‘The scale and the technology of the SEGS projects may now have been eclipsed by recent developments but this does not diminish its significance – they provided the first evidence that CSP was a bankable technology. Just as the SEGS projects laid the foundation for future projects to flourish I would fully expect Abengoa’s Solana to do the same in proving the value of energy storage and of Ivanpah in proving tower technology’.

There will be an opportunity to visit the defining Ivanpah plant for delegates of CSP Today USA 2014 (5-6 June, Las Vegas) by the majority owners and operators NRG Energy. The event will be focusing on the recent success of CSP in the U.S and how this success can be used to secure future gains.