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