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The World's Largest Solar Plant

Unfortunately, I know Blythe, California too well. This natural blast furnace is in a God-forsaken corner of the state where I hunted jack rabbits as a kid, the Indians survived on Gila monsters for protein, and it regularly reaches 130 degrees in the shade. It is also where Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper crossed the "bridge of no return" over the Colorado River in the cult flick Easy Rider. Blythe has unsurprisingly become ground zero for the global thermal solar movement, which I have been chronicling with great interest.

The entire industry has just taken a quantum leap forward with the approval of a massive 1,000 megawatt plant to be built by Solar Trust of America, a joint venture between two European companies. It dwarfs the 392 MW plant to be built by BrightSource Energy which only received its own go-ahead weeks ago. It is all part of a rush to start alternative energy projects before Federal subsidies from Obama's 2009 stimulus package expire at the end of this year. The Solar Trust project expected to qualify for $900 million in cash grants and additional loan guarantees from the Department of Energy.

Related Article: Costs Fall with First Ever 100% Carbon Solar Cell

The facility will deploy arrayed mirrors over 7,025 acres, or 11 square miles, aimed at a conventional steam turbine. This will generate enough electricity for 2 million homes, about 15% of the total in California. With the Tres Amigas facility in New Mexico coming online soon, this raises the possibility of the Golden State selling excess green, carbon free power to the rest of the West.

Sorry guys, no equity play here. The new plant will be built and operated by privately held European companies that have been flocking to the US with their advanced technology to cash in on our generous subsidies. But it does make other publicly-listed smart grid, transmission, and storage plays out there more interesting. It is all part of a huge, new alternative energy industry that is growing far faster than most investors realize.

By. Mad Hedge Fund Trader


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  • CAKH on November 14 2012 said:
    Um, STA went bankrupt (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/02/us-solartrust-bankruptcy-idUSBRE8310ZV20120402) and Blythe got sold to a US energy company (http://www.pv-tech.org/news/nextera_named_top_bidder_for_1gw_blythe_plant) months ago. They also announced plans well over a year ago to convert from solar thermal to solar PV (http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/blythe-solar-project-converts-from-csp-to-pv-for-first-phase-082211/ ). Read much?
  • Tom on November 19 2012 said:
    Are these projects going to be the last substential ones for Solar Thermal ? why the US is still promoting electricity generation with a technology that is not competative already with solar PV .I would love to know what benefits and price advantage US and your website sees in the Solar Thermal Tower technology

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