World's biggest solar power project approved

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The US Department of the Interior has approved the world's largest solar energy project.

The $4 billion Blythe Solar Power Project will produce up to 1,000MW of solar power - enough to power up to 750,000 homes.  It will cover 7,025 acres of public lands in Riverside County, California.

The decision authorizes the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Solar Millennium a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met.

"The Blythe 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," said interior secretary Ken Salaza.
 
The project uses parabolic trough technology, whereby 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.

A new 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line will be constructed to connect the Blythe Solar Project to the Devers-Palo Verde #2 500 kV line at the Colorado River substation.

The project is expected to create 1,066 jobs at the peak of construction and 295 permanent jobs. "This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home," said Salazar.

Earlier this month, Salazar 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.

“With the approval of the Blythe project, the solar projects approved on BLM public lands in the last few weeks have the potential to generate up to 2800 megawatts of renewable energy," says said BLM director Bob Abbey. "That’s enough to power up to two million homes."