Bright future for solar energy in the US

The US’s solar power sector is going from strength to strength, with further announcements this week of progress in some major solar projects.

A 550 MW solar-photovoltaic facility, to be built in the California desert, has been approved following an extensive environmental review by the Interior’s Bureau of Land (BLM). The review saw a dramatic reduction of the project’s original planned footprint, down from 19,000 acres to 4,144.

Once built, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm will still generate sufficient energy to power over 165,000 homes. The project has already received backing from the Department of Energy, which granted Desert Sunlight a conditional loan guarantee of $1.88 billion in June.

California is also set to become home to the world’s largest solar facility, with the announcement today that the Blythe Solar Power Project will be converted from concentrated solar power (CSP) to photovoltaic (PV) technology.

Solar Trust of America, the project’s developer, cited improved conditions in the PV market as the driving force behind this decision. Once the conversion is complete, the total capacity of the Blythe Project will reach 1,000 MW.

Elsewhere, solar company Sungevity and finance conglomerate Citigroup announced the launch of a $50 million renewable energy fund to support residential solar lease projects.

Sungevity’s solar lease programme allows homeowners to pay a monthly rental fee to the company, rather than buying their rooftop solar system upfront. Since 2010, the company has raised over $120 million to support residential solar projects.

Finally, yesterday saw the switch-on of the 10 MW Dover SUN Park, in Delaware. The facility generates sufficient electricity to power 1,500 homes, representing a significant step towards the state goal of producing 65% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.

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Related stories:
More US government loans for solar power (31-May)
Blythe solar power project secures $2.1 billion US government loan (19-Apr)
More US solar power projects fast tracked for approval (7-Oct 2010)
Solar power in US grows 37% in 2009 (19-Apr 2010)


18 August 2011