Gaining on the momentum of approving its first solar projects to be built on public lands earlier this month, the U.S. government has now sanctioned the largest solar project to built on public land — the 1,000-megawatt Blythe Solar Power Project.
The US$6 billion Blythe solar power plant is located in California’s Mojave Desert, and will utilize concentrated solar power technology. The project, being developed by German-based Solar Millennium (XETRA: S2M.DE), will cover more than 7,000 acres of land.
Already approved by the California Energy Commission, the solar farm is now clear to begin construction. Solar Millennium hopes to break ground before the end of the year.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, said this approval marks the start of a new solar boom in the United States: “Today is a day that makes me excited about the nation’s future. This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home.”
The Blythe Solar Power Project is one of six solar power plants that have been approved to be built on public lands by the U.S. Department of the Interior. All of the approvals have come in the last month and each of the projects is located in California. California is not only the United States’ leading solar energy producer, but it is also home to one of the world’s largest renewable energy markets.
Despite its position as a global cleantech leader, the state of California is currently embroiled in a political battle over clean energy. Proposition 23, which will be on next week’s election ballot, seeks to curb Governor Schwarzenegger’s precedent setting environmental and clean energy laws because, ironically enough, they have been labelled as “job-killers” which are detrimental to the economy.
Continued resistance to new energy policy from the Republican party and fossil fuel companies has not hindered the Obama administration from finally moving forward in the approval process of renewable energy projects proposed on public lands. The approvals could not come soon enough for developers, some of which have been waiting for five years — and in the case of the recently approved Cape Wind project, eight and half years.
Collectively the approved solar projects are expected to generate more than 3,000 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 2 million homes. Additionally, they will create over 2,000 jobs during construction and 700 permanent jobs.