Owners seek to downsize Blythe solar project

Original developers Palo Verde Solar I, a subsidiary of German company Solar Millennium AG, had planned a 1 GW CSP project, later modified to include some photovoltaics.

NextEra Energy Resources acquired the project after Solar Millennium filed for insolvency and applied to change the scheme to fully photovoltaic in June 2012.

The owner, via its NextEra Blythe Solar Energy Center subsidiary, has now amended the photovoltaic-only request to downsize the project capacity.

The original plans were for a 1 GW project built in eight 125 MW stages, with construction due to start this month.

Next Era has proposed starting construction on the first of three 125 MW phases in June 2014 with a final, 110 MW, phase finished by June 2018.

The owners indicated in their change of scale petition to the California Energy Commission that they have yet to decide whether to use Yingli YGE 300 Series multicrystalline modules or First Solar FS Series 3 thin film units.

In the paperwork NextEra says its submitted plans will have less visual impact than the original CSP scheme because there is no need for four power blocks and associated 120-foot cooling towers or for 24-foot tall trough mirrors.

The owners also claim their revised scheme has less impact on air quality; worker safety; hazardous materials disposal; waste management; soil, land and water use; traffic and transportation; and noise and vibration issues as well as bringing more socio-economic benefits and having less impact on biological resources – good news for any American badgers, desert kit foxes and desert tortoises in the vicinity.

NextEra also says their revised project will have a shorter construction time and fewer greenhouse gas emissions and will provide up to 619 jobs for Riverside County in the peak construction period.