World’s largest Concentrating Solar Power project breaks ground in California

The approximately 2-billion-dollar project will create more than 1,000 jobs and produce 370 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy once completed, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the scene.

The Ivanpah Concentrating Solar Power is the first-of- its-kind to be built on federal land, covering about 3,600 acres ( about 1,458 hectares) in San Bernardino County near Los Angeles, according to the governor.

"Today we are breaking ground on the largest solar thermal project in the world, right here in California," said Schwarzenegger. "The construction of this renewable energy plant is great news for our state, and further proof that it is possible to both protect the environment and grow the economy. Projects like this one are helping us meet our long-term energy and environmental goals, while creating jobs and moving us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future — a future where California leads the nation and the world in a clean energy revolution."

Once completed, the solar energy project will nearly double the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. and will produce enough clean energy to power 140,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 400,000 tons annually, the equivalent of taking more than 70,000 cars off the road, according to BrightSource, a clean energy firm.

BrightSource has contracted with two energy facilities — Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison — to sell the power generated from this project.

The Ivanpah project is one of the projects jointly processed through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) cooperative model established by a 2009 agreement. The system was among the first commercial solar thermal power plants to be permitted on federal public land in the U.S., and the CEC issued a permit for construction for the project on September 22, 2010.

California has consistently led the nation in renewable energy development, Schwarzenegger said.

The state currently has over 270 renewable energy projects, totaling approximately 70,000 MW, interested in building and running facilities in the Golden State. The CEC has recently approved six large-scale solar power projects totaling nearly 3,000 MW in clean, renewable energy that will likely start construction in California by the end of this year.