Construction on the world’s largest solar thermal power plant was officially begun at a groundbreaking ceremony held on Friday June 17th. Attending the ceremony for the Blythe solar power plant facility was US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, California’s Governor Jerry Brown and Joseph DeConinck, Blythe’s mayor, as well as representatives of the Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium.

The Blythe project, which consists of two power plants each with a net capacity of 242MW, received a loan guarantee to the tune of US$2.1 billion from the US Federal Financing Bank in April. The overall cost of the two plants is currently projected to reach US$2.8 billion, and both are expected to be connected to the grid by 2014.

“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,” said Ken Salazar, US Secretary of the Interior. “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.”

Solar Trust of America is planning on eventually establishing four such power plants under the Blythe title, with a combined capacity of around 1,000MW (1GW).