Take the total solar thermal energy capacity in the U.S. - now imagine being able to double that with a single solar farm. That’s the impact that the Blythe Solar Power Project is projected to have upon completion. Announced by the Department of the Interior on Monday, this solar installation will span 7,025 acres of public lands and produce up to 1,000 megawatts of solar power, producing enough to power 300,000 – 750,000 homes.
The massive project will generate over 1,000 construction jobs, before requiring 295 permanent staff to maintain the solar thermal plant. The Blythe site will be the first of four solar thermal plant developments that will eventually produce 2,800 megawatts of electricity, powering up to two million homes in the region.
Secretary Salazar praised the project, calling it “a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy…” which “shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future.”
The plant will utilize a "parabolic trough" system whereby parabolic mirrors focus the sun's energy onto collector tubes. Fluid in the tubes is then heated and sent 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. Construction is slated to begin at the end of 2010 and the project is expected to start producing electricity in 2013.
For more details on this exciting project check out the Department of Interior's fact sheet.
John Schueler is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs.