1.25 Gigawatts of Solar Thermal Power Approved in California in Past Two Days Will Double US Capacity


photo: BLM

There've been multiple gigawatts of solar thermal power plants planned for various places in the California desert for some time, but finally some more of them are getting the approvals need so that construction can start: The US Bureau of Land Management has issued a final environmental impact statement for the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project; and the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project has received final California state approval as well. The smaller of the two first: Renewable Energy World reports NextEra Energy Resources has been given the green light by the California Energy Commission to begin construction on the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project.

The $1 billion, 2,000 acre solar thermal power plant will use parabolic troughs to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity. NextEra expects the power plant to come online within the next three years, though as yet it has no power purchase agreement in place. In other words, no electric utility has yet committed to buy the power the plant produces.

And the larger of the two: With the final BLM environmental impact statement completed, and the CEC already saying it will approve the project once public comment closes next month, Solar Millennium Inc. will soon begin construction on the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project.

The 7,025 acre project, also using parabolic trough technology, is expected to produce enough power for approximately 800,000 homes, and alone will nearly double the installed commercial solar power capacity in the United States.

The price tag and time til completion: $6 billion and six years once construction actually begins.

More on Blythe via The New York Times and the Bureau of Land Management.

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More on Solar Thermal Power:
Solar Thermal Power in North-Africa: How Much Land to Power the World?
1,300 Megawatts of Solar Thermal Power to be Developed in Mojave Desert by BrightSource Energy
850 MW Solar Thermal Power Plant Seeks California State Approval
US Army Goes Solar: 500 MW Solar Thermal Power Plant to be Built at Fort Irwin

Tags: California | Renewable Energy | Solar Power | United States