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 project location developed by the American project development unit of the Solar Millennium Group 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 solar 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 power plants have already started at the Blythe location. With a total capacity of 1,000 MW, the world's largest solar power 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.