The Palen solar project will have a nominal planned capacity of 500 megawatts and the Rice solar project will generate up to 150MW at peak. The projects can be now found all over the Southern Californian desert area and have a combined capacity of 4,142 MW.
The Palen and Rice projects both require approval from the federal Bureau of Land Management, and the Rice solar plant must also be approved by the Western Area Power Administration. Palen will utilise parabolic trough technology and the Rice project will house a tower that will collect the sun heat, using molten salt to store the heat to generate electricity after sundown.
In comparison with the Hoover Dam, the solar projects will be able to generate double the amount of peak power capacity.The Palo Verde nuclear station in Arizona is currently the largest power producer in the Southwest, generating 3,875MW in total at combined peak capacity.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office released a statement saying that developers have expressed interest in building about 270 renewable energy projects in California, totaling about 70,000MW. Realisation of a fraction of these projects will turn renewable energy into a mainstream power source for the state.