And then there were six – six new major California solar power plants approved by that state’s energy commission since late August, that is. The California Energy Commission (CEC), in approving the Genesis Solar Energy and Imperial Valley Solar Projects, now has licensed 2,829 megawatts (MW) of renewable solar power in the California desert.
The two new unanimously and separately approved plants total 959 MW of solar power and come on the heels of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System vote last week. The 250-MW Genesis project is set in Riverside County and the 709-MW Imperial Valley project will be in Imperial County. Both projects still require decisions from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which approves the use of federal public lands, before they can proceed. Both projects will have significant impacts on cultural resources, land use, and visual resources, according to the CEC, but as has been previously with the other approved plants, the benefits of these clean energy sources reportedly override the impacts.
The Genesis project would use parabolic trough technology where parabolic mirrors are used to heat a transfer fluid which is then used to generate steam. Electricity is produced from the steam expanding through steam turbine generators. The Imperial site, meanwhile, would use solar dish Stirling systems, or “SunCatchers”, consisting of a solar receiver heat exchanger and a closed-cycle, high efficiency engine designed to convert solar power to rotary power, then driving an electrical generator to produce electricity.
California is currently in the midst of a solar power gold rush of sorts, pushing to approve a total of nine major solar plants before year’s end in order to qualify for federal stimulus funds. Three plants remain still to review and approve, including the 663.5 MW Calico Solar Project, 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project and the 150-MW Rice Solar Energy Project.