US: CEC approves a further 959 MW of solar thermal power in California desert

The 250 megawatt (MW) Genesis Solar Energy Project and the 709 MW Imperial Valley Solar Project now represent the fifth and sixth solar projects the commission has licensed in the past five weeks.

In total, it has licensed 2,829 megawatts (MW) of renewable solar power in the California desert since late August. "These approved solar projects continue to demonstrate the importance of harnessing the power of the sun for clean, renewable energy for California’s communities," said CEC chairman Karen Douglas.

"By adding nearly 1,000 megawatts of renewable power, we will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and get the State closer to its goals of using more renewables by 2020. Today’s actions show how California is leading the nation by licensing nearly 3,000 megawatts this year with large-scale solar power plants," Douglas added.

The Genesis Solar Energy Project, if implemented, will use parabolic trough technology. It is being proposed by Genesis Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC and would be located in eastern Riverside County, about 25 miles west of Blythe. The company is said to be currently seeking a right-of-way grant from the BLM for 4,640 acres, with construction and operation of the facility taking up about 1,800 acres.

The Imperial Valley Solar Project is being developed by Imperial Valley Solar, LLC, a subsidiary of Tessera Solar, in Imperial County. The project would be located about 14 miles west of El Centro. It would reportedly be located on approximately 6,140 acres of land managed by the BLM, and about 360 acres of privately owned land.

The facility would use solar dish Stirling systems, or "SunCatchers".

The Genesis and Imperial Valley projects are among nine large solar thermal projects scheduled to go before the commission before the end of the year. More than 4.1 GW of solar power will be added if all nine projects are approved. The nine projects would provide more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.