Solar Millennium Opt for Photovoltaic Technology at Blythe Project

Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406) and its US subsidiary Solar Trust of America announced their plan to convert the first 500 MW phase of the Blythe Concentrated Solar Power Project to photovoltaic (PV) technology. When complete, the Blythe Project will be 1,000 MW in size and thus the largest solar facility in the world. While Solar Millennium remains the international leader in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology, the company cited favorable conditions in the PV and commercial lending markets in the United States as the main driver for the decision.

"Solar Millennium responds quickly and pragmatically to market conditions, and at the moment the California market favors PV technology," said Christoph Wolff, CEO of Solar Millennium. "We are taking decisive steps in the US to maximize site value for our company and our shareholders."

While the company’s first North American project will be converted to PV, SolarMillennium maintains a strong international pipeline of concentrated solar energy projects. "Our long-term strategy remains unchanged. We see solid demand for concentrated solar thermal energy in the world’s growth markets such as Africa, the Middle East, India and China. This is also true for Southern Europe where we have just achieved financial close on our fourth Concentrating Solar Power plant in Spain," Wolff added.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America said: "We develop solar energy projects of the size, scale, and scope of the largest conventional power plants in order to propel solar energy forward as a mainstream source of clean energy. By managing a sophisticated domestic solar supply chain to service both solar thermal and PV projects throughout the American Southwest we drive down the cost of solar and generate valuable jobs throughout the country."

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment of a $2.1 billion loan for the construction of 500 MW of CSP technology at the Blythe site. However, Solar Millennium and Solar Trust of America decided developing the site as PV and utilizing commercial financing is a more attractive strategy in the current market.

Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium are in discussions with leading PV panel manufacturers and EPC contractors regarding the Blythe project. "Going forward, we will continue to expand our technology portfolio to respond to market opportunities. However, we strongly believe solar thermal technology will continue to fuel our market growth. The advantages of CSP as agrid-stabilizing renewable energy source with storage capabilities are obvious and highly valued by utilities elsewhere in the world. They will soon become systematically acknowledged in the US, as well. This includes the use of hybrid PV/CSP plants," Wolff concluded.

Solar Millennium AG,Erlangen, (ISIN DE0007218406) is a company that operates globally in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in solar-thermal power plants, particularly parabolic trough plants, and has taken a global leadership position in this field.

Solar Millennium is striving to further extend its expertise in this area with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. The Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar power plants: from project development and financing to technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants. Solar Millennium realized Europe’s first parabolic trough power plants in Spain as well as the first modern parabolic trough solarfield in Egypt. In Blythe (California), Solar Millennium is presently developing the largest solar power plant in the world. Additional projects are planned around the world with a total capacity of several thousand megawatts. The current regional focus is on Spain, the U.S., the Middle East and North Africa.

Solar Trust of America is an integrated solar energy company with several utility-scale solar energy projects under development throughout the American Southwest, including the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project, the largest solar project in the world. The company has 1,250 MW of additional solar power projects in advanced stages of development in California and Nevada. As a fully integrated company, Solar Trust of America works across the entire solar value chain, including project design, financing, procurement, construction, operation, and management.

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.