With outline plans for three 242MW solar thermal power plants, the recent signing of power purchase agreements between Solar Millennium, LLC, and Southern California Edison is a boon for California’s solar industry. The agreements detail the construction of two 242MW solar thermal plants, with the option to proceed with the third, subject to approval of the California Public Utilities Commission. Operation of the three parabolic trough solar power projects is expected to begin in 2013-14.
The output of the total 726MW of capacity will be purchased by Southern California Edison. It is said that the projects will interconnect to transmission lines near the site locations at Ridgecrest, Desert Center, and Blythe, California.
“These are excellent sites for solar thermal power projects in California because of the strong and abundant sun,” said Josef Eichhammer, CEO of Solar Millennium, LLC, the Company’s development arm in the United States, “and they are close to large metropolitan areas where there is high energy demand. The annual Direct Normal Irradiation in these areas is almost 2,800 kWh/m2, more than 30% higher than in southern Spain. The projects will help California meet its renewable energy goals, while stimulating California’s economy at the same time.”
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Each of the three new projects will cost approximately $1 billion, while an estimated 100 permanent positions will be created per site, besides the 800 staff required to perform the initial construction of the plants.