Solar Millennium LLC's Blythe concentrating solar project secured a Final 'Record of Decision' from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approving the plant's Right-of-Way Grant.

To see the updated map of U.S. CSP Projects and the tracker list, click here.

Project stats:

Project name:            Blythe (Phase I & II)
Developer:                 Solar Millennium LLC
                                  -which is a subsidiary of Solar Trust of America
                                  -which is 70% owned by Solar Millennium AG, 30% owned by Ferrostaal AG
Location:                   Riverside County
Technology:              Parabolic Trough (HelioTrough - engineering by Flagsol)
Capacity (Gross):     1,000 MW-ac (4 plants, each 250 MW)
Acres:                       5,950 (that works out to 6 acres/MW), although the right of way is 9,400
Electricity Purchaser: SCE
Estimated cost:          >$5.0 billion ($5.00/W-ac)
Capacity Factor:         26%
Solar-to-Electricity efficiency: 14%
Electricity output:        2,200 GWh/yr
Cooling:                      Dry (Air-cooled condenser)
Water usage (acre-ft):  600/yr
Storage (hours):          0
O&M Jobs:                 220 during 40-yr. plant life
Construction jobs:       1,000 during 2.5 yr. construction period
Expected online date:  2Q 2013 for first 250 MW plant, next plant 7 months later

This is a big win for all players involved, including the following members of the CSP food chain:

Receiver tube manufacturer:    Schott or Solel (Siemens)
Reflector/mirror manufacturer:  Flabeg (headquartered in Germany)
Engineering firm:                    Flagsol (JV between Solar Millennium AG & Ferrostaal AG)
EPC:                                     Kiewit (headquartered in Nebraska)

The obvious bottleneck is the Loan Guarantee program, which is effectively holding up Blythe, as well as the Tessera/Stirling projects.

Can the folks at the DOE make commitments in time for these projects to break ground by 12/31/10, so that they can qualify for the 30% Treasury Grant program?

We'll know soon enough.

As dry-cooled plants cost more and deliver less electricity (lower capacity factor), the estimated LCOE of this project is around $0.18/kWh.  Therefore, this project needs the subsidized debt from the feds in order to provide sufficient returns to attract project and tax equity investors.  Without a loan guarantee, it looks as though this project could be unfinance-able.

To see our previous articles on regulatory approvals, see:

Solar Millennium Blythe's CEC approval

BrightSource Ivanpah's BLM approval

BrightSource Ivanpah's CEC approval

Tessera/Stirling Calico's BLM approval

Tessera/Stirling Imperial's BLM approval

NextEra Beacon's CEC approval

And for a somewhat less rosy look at the future of the CSP industry, see: The troubled future of CSP.