Desert Sunlight solar project gets go-ahead from Department of Interior; construction to begin soon

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has greenlighted the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, a 550MW (AC) solar power project to be developed, built, and operated by First Solar on 4100 acres of public lands in the California desert outside Joshua Tree National Park. Construction on the site could begin within days.

“The issuance of Desert Sunlight’s Record of Decision (ROD) is a major milestone in the project’s permitting process and paves the way for construction to begin by mid-August, maintaining the project’s eligibility for the DOE’s loan guarantee program,” Frank De Rosa, First Solar’s senior VP of North American project development, told PV-Tech. 

Desert Sunlight is the beneficiary of a conditional loan guarantee commitment of $1.88 billion, which was announced in June by the US Department of Energy. 

“The 550MW Desert Sunlight project will be the largest PV project on federally managed land in the United States and one of the two largest PV solar projects in the world,” he continued, “both of which are being developed by First Solar.” (The other is the 550MW [AC] Topaz Solar Farm, located in the Carrizo Plain area of San Luis Obispo County, CA.)

Although he could provide any detail on the timeline of the construction phases planned at the project or any update on a potential buyer/owner for the site, De Rosa did say that nearly 9 million of the company’s Series 3 cadmium telluride thin-film PV panels will be deployed.

First Solar has two signed power purchase agreements for the project, one for 250MW with Southern California Edison, the other for 300MW with Pacific Gas & Electric.

An onsite substation and a 230kV generation tie line will connect the project to the Red Bluff substation, which will convert the power from 230kV to 500kV for transmission on SCE’s regional grid.

De Rosa noted that in regards to eventual interconnection of the power plants’ output to the two utilities’ grids, the solar company is “not planning on energizing one off-taker before the other.”

The PV farm will create more than 630 jobs at peak construction and pump an estimated $336 million into the local economy. When built, Desert Sunlight will produce enough electricity to power over 165,000 homes.

About $197 million of the $336 million that the project is expected to generate for the local region will be in the form of wages. More than three-quarters of the total impact will occur during the construction period, with the remainder taking place over the project’s 25-year operating period.

The project, located about six miles north of Desert Center, will also generate about $27 million in sales and property tax revenue to Riverside County.

As part of Interior’s commitment to responsible development of renewable energy, the Desert Sunlight project underwent extensive environmental review and mitigation, with the final environmental impact statement issued on April 15. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) worked in close coordination with Desert Sunlight, the National Park Service, and other stakeholders to significantly reduce the proposed project’s total footprint from 19,000 acres down to 4,144 acres. 

In addition, BLM requires that Desert Sunlight provide funding for acquisition and enhancement of more than 7,500 acres of suitable habitat for desert tortoise and other sensitive wildlife species to help mitigate the project’s potential impacts.

The decision authorizes BLM to offer Desert Sunlight Holdings a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met.

The ROD also approves amendments to the bureau’s California Desert Conservation Area Plan, identifying the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm site as available for solar energy development and identifying 14,500 acres in the Project Study Area as unavailable for solar energy development.

A copy of the project Record of Decision, which also includes the amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, can be found here

22 September 2021
To commemorate the World Energy Storage Day(WESD) on 22 September, being recognized worldwide, Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is organising the 5th global conference and virtual expo, which will be held virtually on 22 September 2021. WESD is a global movement initiated by various apex trade bodies working to promote and adopt energy storage, e-mobility & green hydrogen technologies for a sustainable future. The forthcoming edition of WESD is expected to attract global participation with an intent to facilitate bi-lateral trade, market development and new research and innovation, which will invite 100+ countries, 100+ regulators & policy makers, 100+ International speakers,1000+ organisations, 100+ partners & exhibitors and 20,000+ global delegates.
28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.

Read Next

PV Tech Premium
September 21, 2021
Pressures on PV plant performance have led the solar industry to be more demanding and forensic of the data operational projects generate, as well as the power. Jules Scully explores the growing role software is playing in the utility-scale solar arena and how it must evolve further still to meet expectations.
September 21, 2021
A round-up of the latest news from the US PV sector, including project developments from Ørsted, Candela Renewables and CEP Renewables.
September 21, 2021
New York’s governor has proposed an expansion of the NY-Sun distributed solar incentive programme and revealed plans for two transmission projects that will transport renewable energy to New York City to help the state reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030.
September 21, 2021
German solar installer Enpal has raised €345 million (US$405 million) in debt financing to fund the deployment of more than 15,000 household solar PV systems
September 21, 2021
India added 521MW of rooftop solar in Q2 2021, an increase of 517% compared to the 85MW added in the same quarter last year despite a slight increase in costs, according to a Mercom India report.
September 21, 2021
Private equity firm American Securities has secured a deal to acquire US solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) provider Swinerton Renewable Energy and its operations and maintenance (O&M) subsidiary SOLV from Swinerton Incorporated.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
BRISTOL, UK
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021