The 1,000-megawatt (MW) capacity Blythe Solar Power Project, which got its state level approval from California back in September, got final sign off today from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). This massive solar farm will be the largest of its kind on public lands once built, covering 7,025 acres and producing enough clean energy to power 300,000 – 750,000 homes.
The Blythe project, which developer Solar Millennium said will increase the solar electricity production capacity of the U.S. by more than double once it is completed, will begin construction by the end of the year. It reportedly will reduce CO2 emissions by nearly one million short tons per year, or the equivalent of removing more than 145,000 cars from the road. It also will produce what the developer says is “a total of more than 7,500 jobs, including 1,000 direct jobs during the construction period, and thousands of additional indirect jobs in the community and throughout the supply chain. When the 1,000 MW facility is fully operational it will create more than 220 permanent jobs.”
The technology behind this particular solar farm, according to the DOI, uses “parabolic trough technology where rows of parabolic mirrors focus solar energy on collector tubes. The tubes carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends live steam to a turbine to produce electricity.” The project, which actually is four 250 MW plants, is not without its environmental issues. As part of the approval process, the DOI required that Solar Millennium provide “funding for more than 8,000 acres of desert tortoise, western burrowing owl, bighorn sheep and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat to mitigate the project’s impacts.”
“The Blythe Solar Power Project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a statement. “This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home.”
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