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Arnie OKs world's largest solar plant project

The Governator approves plans to build $4b green energy plant

Parabolic reflectors transform solar engery in to electricity. Photo by Getty, for illustration only.
Parabolic reflectors transform solar engery in to electricity. Photo by Getty, for illustration only.

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The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted this week to approve the construction of the $4 billion Blythe Solar Power Project, the world’s largest solar project.

Once completed, the solar thermal generating facility and adjacent four 250MW plants will produce enough power to supply 300,000 homes with electricity annually. Construction of the first two plants is expected to begin towards the end of the year.

The Blythe Solar Power Project is being developed by Solar Millennium, LLC, a subsidiary of Solar Trust of America and the 37km2 project site is located in an area of Riverside County, Southern California.

The project will utilise solar parabolic trough technology to generate electricity. With this technology, arrays of parabolic mirrors collect heat energy from the sun and refocus the radiation on a receiver tube located at the focal point of the parabola.

A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated to high temperature (750°F) as it circulates through the receiver tubes. The heated HTF is then piped through a series of heat exchangers where it releases its stored heat to generate high pressure steam. The steam is then fed to a traditional steam turbine generator where electricity is produced.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement published by the that he applauded the CEC's decision to approve the construction of the Blythe Solar Power Project.

"I am excited to see other solar projects move forward," he said. "Projects like this need our immediate attention, as solar and renewable power are the future of the California economy. Hopefully this approval of the Blythe project will attract more companies to look to the Golden State for their projects."

The project scale easily eclipses that of the Shams 1, currently under construction and which claims to be the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, and the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Shams 1 extends over an area of 2.5km2, and will have a power capacity of about 100 MW. The solar field will consist of 768 parabolic trough collectors, to be supplied by Abengoa Solar. Construction is set to begin during Q3 2010, and is expected to take about two years.

 

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