1,000MW solar energy project given go-ahead in US

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The US Department of the Interior has given the go-ahead for the largest solar energy project ever to be built on US public lands.

A total of four solar-thermal power plants are to be built at the Blythe solar power project in California, with an overall capacity of 1,000MW.

The project, proposed by Palo Verde Solar I − a subsidiary of Solar Millennium − will cover 7,025 acres of public lands eight miles west of Blythe in Riverside County, California. It is expected to create 1,066 jobs at the peak of construction and 295 permanent jobs.

Oliver Blamberger, chief financial officer of Solar Millennium, said: ’This paves the way for the start of construction of the first two 242MW plants before the end of the year.’

The solar project joins a host of announcements from the US Interior Department in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the department approved the first five renewable-energy projects ever on public lands − Imperial Valley Solar Project, Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System and the Calico Solar Project, all in California, and the Silver State North Solar Project in Nevada.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Solar Millennium is eligible to secure $1.9bn (£0.6bn) in conditional loan guarantees from the US Department of Energy for its Blythe solar power project, which uses parabolic trough technology − where rows of parabolic mirrors focus solar energy on collector tubes. The tubes carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends live steam to a turbine to produce electricity.