Palen concentrating solar power project achieves license from California Energy Commission

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved the construction and operation of two solar-thermal power plants with a planned total capacity of some 500 megawatts (MW) at the Palen location in California.

As such, the second concentrated solar energy project location developed by the American project development unit of the Solar Millennium Group (ISIN DE0007218406) has been granted this approval. The entire approval procedure is expected to be completed with the decision by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the beginning of 2011.

Together with the Concentrating Solar Power location at Blythe, the locations of the Solar Millennium Group that have been granted approval would thus total a capacity of some 1,500 MW in California alone.

Solar Millennium is thus making a material contribution towards the energy transformation process in the US. At the same time, the construction of the power plants will provide a significant economical impulse for the southwest of the country. The initial construction works for the planned Concentrating Solar Power plants have already started at the Blythe location.

With a total capacity of 1,000 megawatt, the world’s largest concentrated solar energy plants would being built here. For the first time, these will approach the dimensions of nuclear energy plants or major coal-fired power plants.

Oliver Blamberger, CFO of Solar Millennium AG: “The partial approval by the California Energy Commission for the Palen location is another important milestone in our US business. On the whole, we have established an excellent starting position in the currently most important market for solar-thermal power plants.”

Solar Millennium LLC, the project development unit in charge of the US within the Solar Millennium Group, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solar Trust of America LLC, the US American joint venture of Solar Millennium (70 percent) and Ferrostaal Inc. (30 percent).

Uwe T. Schmidt, CEO of Solar Trust of America, emphasizes the general significance of the solar energy sector for the US economy: “With roughly 800 permanent jobs in the operation and several thousands in the construction of our solar-thermal power plants in California and Nevada, new sustainable jobs are being created throughout the American southwest.”

Like the sister projects in Blythe, the plants planned at the Palen location will set new standards for solar-thermal power plants with respect to sustainability and environmental friendliness. Both project locations will feature dry rather than water cooling, thus reducing the consumption of water considerably.

Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, is an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar-thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in parabolic trough power plants and has managed to take a globally leading position in this field.

Solar Millennium strives to further extend its expertise in the area of solar-thermal power plants with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. As such, the Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar-thermal power plants: from project development and financing to the technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants.

In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants and realized these together with partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts: here the current regional focus is on Spain, the US, India, China, the Middle East and North Africa.

Solar Trust of America (STA) is a joint venture of the Solar Millennium Group (70%) and the Ferrostaal Inc. (30%) and covers important business fields in the value chain for solar thermal power plants in the region of North America. This includes the business segments of project development and financing, engineering, turn-key construction and operation of power plants. Solar Millennium LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solar Trust of America.

Solar-thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the incidental radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger.

As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.