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California Solar Power Plant Switching To PV Technology

Thursday, January 16th 2014 12:59 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
California Solar Power Plant Switching To PV Technology

NextEra Energy Inc., a Florida-based energy provider received the approval from California energy regulators to use photovoltaic panels for a new solar power plant, Reuters reported. The 485 megawatt Blythe solar power plant will be a $1.13 billion investment for NextEra.

The original plan was for the California solar installation to be powered by a solar parabolic-trough system. The California Energy Commission agreed to let NextEra use PV panels by a 5-0 vote. Commissioner Karen Douglas said in a statement the PV panel plant will create more renewable energy.

"The project will spur California's transition to renewable energy and help advance its aggressive climate change goals," Douglas said.

Work For The Plant Began In 2010
The Blythe project has been in the pipeline for some time. The Energy Commission originally approved the project in September 2010. The original plan was for the California solar installation to be a 1,000 MW solar plant that would be located in eastern Riverside County on a tract of federal land equal to 7,043 acres.

Transitioning to the use of PV panels has been a long process for NextEra. In June 2012, an amendment was filed with the commission to switch the project over to PV technology. In April 2013, the Florida-based energy provider revised the previous amendment to shrink the project's generating capacity and the plant's physical size. In December, the Energy Commission was going over the specifics of the Blythe plant and found the project to have "environmental impacts that are cumulatively significant when considered along with the impacts of other projects in the region."

Backtracking A Bit
Although Blythe was approved by the commissions standards, the committee found the plant's original benefits - meet California's Renewable Portfolio Standard, reduce greenhouse gases and job creation - would supersede the environmental impacts.

The new Blythe plant will generate 485 MW of energy on 4,070 acres. The project will be split into four phases. The first three phases will consist of 125 MW, while the fourth will generate 110 MW.

Good Year For Solar
California's solar industry has been very prosperous over the past year. The state doubled its solar roof installations from 1,000 MW to more than 2,000 MW, Solar Industry said. To put that into perspective, it took 30 years for California to get 1,000 MW of rooftop solar power.

The Blythe solar power plant has not yet been given the go ahead to begin construction yet. Once construction begins, it is projected to last 48 months and employ more than 499 people. Once completed, the plant will require 15 people to operate its systems.

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