The U.S. Department of Energy’s conditional loan guarantees for two more California solar projects in the past week is expected to generate more than 1,300 construction jobs and help the state meet its newly approved renewable energy goal of 33% by 2020, according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Chu announced the offers of $2.1 billion and $1.2 billion for the Blythe Solar Power project and the California Valley Solar Ranch project in San Luis Obispo County.
BrightSource Energy, Oakland, also reported last week that it had closed financing for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project via a $1.6-billion loan guarantee from the DOE and took Google on as a partner to the tune of a $168-million investment.
The developer of the Blythe Solar Power Project is Solar Trust of America LLC, Oakland, a joint venture between the German firms Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal.
The concentrating solar thermal power plant includes two units comprising a combined 484 MW generating capacity, an 8 mi transmission line and associated infrastructure. The project will be built 8 mi west of the city of Blythe and 2 mi north of Interstate 10 in the Mojave Desert, Riverside County. Chu says the project is expected to create over 1,000 construction jobs and approximately 80 operations jobs, and the plant is estimated to avoid over 710,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 123,000 vehicles.
Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe project represent the first phase of a larger project that, when completed, will generate 1,000 MW of solar power using parabolic trough technology. Units 1 and 2 will include HelioTrough collectors, which feature a larger yet simplified design, making them less expensive to build and install, and more efficient than earlier trough technology, according to Solar Trust.
The project will be the first concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic trough plant to use an air-cooled condenser unit, which will decrease water use by nearly 90% compared with a water-cooled CSP facility, says Solar Trust. The project will sell all of its electricity output to Southern California Edison and will deliver power into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power grid.
Construction is expected to start before the end of the year, with power generation starting in 2013.
The developer of the California Valley Solar Ranch project is SunPower Corp., San Jose. The DOE says the project includes the construction of a 250 MW alternating current photovoltaic solar generating facility and associated infrastructure. Chu says the California Valley Solar Ranch is expected to create 350 jobs during construction and 10-15 permanent jobs. The project is also expected to avoid over 430,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually and produce enough to power for nearly 60,000 homes.
The DOE says the California Valley Solar Ranch will be the largest utility-scale PV project in the U.S. to utilize tracking technology combined with an innovative monitoring system that will improve annual output by approximately 25% compared with traditional fixed PV installations. The project will utilize single-axis trackers controlled by the innovative wireless tracker monitoring and control (TMAC) system to orient the PV modules toward the sun and maximize solar collection. The TMAC monitoring system receives real time weather updates so the solar array can be stowed in harsh weather conditions to preserve the life of the solar modules.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will purchase all the output from the project.