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Situated in central California’s breadbasket region, Bakersfield is a key agricultural center and a center for petroleum extraction and refining. Now this area is harvesting another abundant resource: the sun’s energy.

The Kimberlina Solar Thermal Energy Plant, (initially developed by Ausra, which was purchased by AREVA Solar in February 2010), began operation in 2008 with its first three solar steam generators (SSGs), which used saturated steam boilers. Since 2009, the plant has operated with approximately 96% availability. In 2010, AREVA Solar constructed, commissioned, and began operating its fourth solar steam generator (SSG4) at the 5-MW Kimberlina facility in Bakersfield (Figure 1), which is the first to use direct steam compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR) technology, a type of concentrating solar power (CSP).

AREVA Solar was able to achieve direct steam generation through a proprietary model predictive control system that overcame the challenge associated with parabolic trough systems of temperature gradients in the absorber tubes and controllability of the two-phase water/steam flow.
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