Palen concentrated solar energy project achieves license from California Energy Commission

Solar Trust of America, LLC, an integrated solar solutions company, announced that its project development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has secured a final decision from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for its 500 Megawatt (MW) Palen Concentrating Solar Power Project.

Located in Riverside County, California, the Palen Concentrating Solar Power Project will house two power plants each generating 250 MW of nominal capacity. Together these plants will provide enough electricity to power up to 150,000 homes each year.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of Solar Millennium, LLC, said, “The CEC’s decision is one of the final significant steps to allowing the Palen project to deliver 500 megawatts of clean solar thermal power to Californians. Not only will this project advance the State’s renewable energy goals, it’s estimated it will create approximately 1,100 skilled jobs for the region and provide an annual economic impact of approximately $270 millionduring the construction period.”

“Today is a bright day for California. By approving the Palen and other projects, California continues its leadership and commitment to support, clean, renewable energy. This solar project will reinvigorate our economy and bring jobs to hard-hit communities. As we look to harness more renewable sources of energy by 2020, California leads the nation by embracing the power of the sun,” said California Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas.

Construction is expected to create approximately 1,100 direct jobs in Southern California, thousands of indirect supply chain jobs in related industries throughout the United States, and 130 long-term operational and maintenance jobs at the facility itself once it is completed.

The Palen Solar Power Project is expected to remove approximately one-half megaton of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which will provide a substantial environmental benefit. It will also employ dry-cooling technology which will enable it to use approximately 90 percent less water than comparable wet-cooled facilities.

Josef Eichhammer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Solar Trust of America and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Millennium, LLC, said, “Much like our Blythe project, Palen exemplifies our commitment to developing environmentally responsible projects that address the concerns of regulatory agencies, local communities and other stakeholders. We hope this kind of cooperation will allow for further development of vital renewable energy resources needed in California.”

For the Palen Solar Power Project, Solar Millennium, LLC has also applied to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a 5,200 -acre Right-of Way (ROW) located directly north of U.S. Interstate-10 and 30 miles west of the City of Blythe, California, where Solar Trust of America is constructing the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project, the world’s largest solar thermal power plant. Pending BLM’s decision on the ROW Grant Application, expected in Spring 2011, the Palen project will add to Solar Trust of America’s California portfolio of approved solar thermal projects totaling 1,500 MW.

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

Solar Trust of America, LLC is an integrated industrial solar solutions company strategically positioned to support the critical need for renewable energy generation in the United States. The company’s Project Development, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), financial resources and operational management expertise ensures the delivery of a fully-integrated concentrated solar power solution using commercially viable and proven parabolic trough solar thermal energy technology.