Tessera said it's teaming up with Optiflex Properties & Development on developing and financing the power plants, which would be located on closed landfills and undeveloped properties, said Janette Coates, a spokeswoman for Tessera.
Tessera announced the project earlier this week, about two weeks after it said it would build a 27-megawatt solar project in Texas and sell the power to CPS Energy, which is run by the city of San Antonio.
Building 500 megawatts would require about 3,500 acres, she said. Tessera and Optiflex are scouting for ideal locations in Riverside for erecting Stirling Energy Systems' SunCatcher equipment.
A SunCatcher is made up of a giant parabolic dish of mirrors (40 feet across) to concentrate the sun onto a receiver called a "power conversion unit (PCU)." Sunlight heats up the hydrogen gas in tubes in the PCU, and the gas goes through a heat exchanger to run a four-cylinder Stirling engine. The engine then drives a generator to produce electricity.
Stirling Energy Systems (SES) recently unveiled a newly designed SunCatcher that it said would be easy to mass produce and maintain than its first-generation design.
The history of Stirling engines goes back to 1816, when Robert Stirling in Scotland designed the first machine and built it two years later to pump water from a quarry.
The companies plan to start construction between 2010 and 2012.