A 1 GW solar farm in California whose fate was in limbo for a while is finally moving forward: Solar Millennium has sold it to Solarhybrid, which will change the technology for the project from concentrating solar thermal to photovoltaic panels.
Companies continue to bow out of the solar market in 2011. This week it’s BP Solar, which is shutting down, as well as Solar Mlillennium, which has filed for insolvency. Last week it was German solar panel company Solon, which also filed for insolvency.
Remember that gigawatt solar farm called Blythe in California that turned down a $2.1 billion federal loan guarantee? That project and 1.25 GW of other solar farm proposals are being sold by Solar Millennium to Solarhybrid, the two German companies said Thursday.
It’s a double-whopper: The federal government is offering the largest loan guarantee commitment yet to what will be the world’s largest proposed solar farm. Blythe Solar is set to get $2.1 billion in loan guarantees to build part of a 1,000MW plant in California.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has become a favorite in the solar business lately, approving six solar farms in this month alone, including a 1,000MW project (the world’s largest) in California. If it seems like he’s racing against the clock to OK these projects, well, he is.
The federal Bureau of Land Management will be stamping its final approval on a series of giant solar energy projects in California over the next two months, marking 2010 as the year when the state allows its desert to bloom with mirrors to produce electricity.
August is turning out to be a critical month for concentrating solar thermal developers. The California Energy Commission issued recommendations for not one, but three projects over the past week, for a whopping total of 1.6 GW. uire
Schott Solar’s announcement that it plans to halve its factory capacity for solar thermal equipment and will lay off 30 workers is a sobering reminder of some of the hurdles ahead for this emerging industry (or re-emerging, depending on your perspective).
Boeing (s BA) is hardly a high-profile name in the world of solar thermal power development — firms like BrightSource Energy or Abengoa spring to mind a lot quicker. But Boeing, as it turns out, is the lord of solar thermal technology patents, according to a cleantech law firm.
A patent tracker by Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti shows that Boeing has snagged 14 solar thermal patents in the U.S. since 2002, more than any other company. The technologies covered include the use of molten salt to store energy and the heating of fluids to produce steam for running a generator, according to the Albany, N.Y., law firm’s latest Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI).
Read More about Boeing: The New Solar Thermal King, In Patents
If anyone doubts the ability of renewable portfolio standards to spur the adoption of clean energy projects, they should look to California. The state is requiring that electric utilities need to get 20 percent of their power from solar, wind and other renewables by 2010, prompting utilities to scramble to cut new deals. In the most recent whopper of an agreement, solar thermal developer Solar Millennium said today that it plans to build, own and operate two 242-MW power plants, with an option for a third, for investor-owned utility Southern California Edison. With the backlog of federal permitting for solar projects, however, its ambitious timeline may be slowed.
The solar developer wants to begin construction on the $1 billion plants — on federal land near Ridgecrest, Desert Center, and Blythe, California — by 2010 and start generating power by 2014. Ray Dracker, senior VP of project development for Solar Millennium’s U.S. subsidiary, said the company is still about a year away from finalizing financing arrangements, and the projects will need approval from the Bureau of Land Management and the California Public Utilities Commission. Besides traditional project financiers, Dracker said the company would consider pursuing Department of Energy loan guarantees.
Read More about Solar Millennium Inks Massive Solar Thermal Deals