Market Research and Insight

What was planned as the world’s largest solar energy facility will now rely on photovoltaics rather than concentrating solar power to generate electricity. Solar...

What was planned as the world’s largest solar energy facility will now rely on photovoltaics rather than concentrating solar power to generate electricity.

Solar Trust of America says it plans to convert the first 500-megawatt (MW) phase of the Blythe Solar Power Project from concentrated solar power (CSP) to photovoltaic (PV) technology. When complete, the Blythe Project is expected to have a total capacity of 1,000 MW.

A joint venture between Solar Millennium AG and engineering/construction firm Ferrostaal Incorporated, Solar Trust said it based the decision on the improved commercial market for solar photovoltaics.

“In light of our change in technology, we now plan to finance the facility in the commercial bank market,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Solar Trust.

The commercial funding will need to replace a $2.1 billion loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE made a conditional commitment for the loan in April 2011.

Solar Trust now plans to roll out construction of the Blythe facility in phases, rather than 250MW at a time as was planned with CSP. The plant will be located in Blythe, California, near Palm Springs.

Schmidt said the company will continue to make solar thermal technology part of its portfolio in the future.

“As the PV base in North America grows, the grid-stabilizing characteristics of CSP will be recognized and rewarded,” he said.

Dan Ilett