More than 300,000 American homes will soon be able to save some two million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually as the world’s largest solar plants facility in California have been started.
US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, California’s Governor Jerry Brown and Joseph DeConinck, mayor of Blythe where the solar plants are set up, led the groundbreaking Friday last week, with representatives from Solar Millennium and Solar Trust of America.
In September 2010, the California Energy Commission approved the construction and operation of four solar plants in Blythe with a projected capacity of around 1,000 MW, equivalent to the turbine output of a nuclear power plant.
Construction of the first two solar plants with a net capacity of 242 MW each, started at the end of 2010, costing around US$2.8 billion.
Solar Trust of America, the American company unit within the Solar Millennium Group, is building up the four solar-thermal power plants in the Californian Mojave desert that has an outdoor temperature of 45 °C.
Salazar said: “Breaking ground on what will be the world’s largest solar power project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future.
“This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home and contribute to our nation’s energy security.”
Christoph Wolff, CEO of Solar Millennium AG, added: “Blythe marks not only a milestone for Solar Millennium, but also for the successful history of solar energy in general. For the first time, we are utilizing solar energy with capacities equaling those of nuclear power or major coal-fired power plants.
“I am pleased that we are able to make our contribution to reaching California’s ambitious climate targets as well as supporting the local economy. I would like to thank all those persons, who contributed to this achievement through their unceasing commitment and trust.”
A few weeks ago, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu offered Solar Millennium AG the conditional commitment for a US$2.1 billion loan guarantee that serves as the precondition for financing some 75 percent of construction costs of the first two 242 MW solar plants with borrowed capital.
The project company needs to meet the defined covenants to receive the the loan guarantees granted by the US Department of Energy.
The project is expected to create some 1,000 direct jobs and several thousand indirect jobs through supplier relations.
By 2014, the two solar plants will have been connected to the grid.
The US utility Southern California Edison will purchase the electricity generated in Blythe 1 and 2 solar plants.