Blythe Mesa Solar Power Project

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Blythe Mesa Solar Power Project
CountryUnited States
LocationRiverside County, California
Coordinates33°39′00″N 114°43′12″W / 33.65000°N 114.72000°W / 33.65000; -114.72000Coordinates: 33°39′00″N 114°43′12″W / 33.65000°N 114.72000°W / 33.65000; -114.72000
Construction beganMarch 2015
Commission dateApril 2016 (Unit 1)
October 2016 (Unit 2)
Owner(s)NextEra Energy Resources
Solar farm
TypeFlat-panel PV
Site area2,000 acres (8.09 km2)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity235 MWAC
Capacity factor30.2% (average 2017)
Annual net output622 GW·h, 310 MW·h/acre
External links

The Blythe Mesa Solar Power Project, also known as the Blythe Solar Energy Center, is a 235 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power plant near the city of Blythe in Riverside County, California.[1] It occupies about 2,000 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Mojave Desert. The construction uses CdTe thin film panels from the U.S. firm First Solar, and the majority of the output is being sold to Kaiser Permanente and Southern California Edison under 20-year power purchase agreements.[2][3]

The project is located adjacent to the 250 MW McCoy Solar Energy Project, together forming a larger 485 MW complex.

Project Details[edit]

The current project configuration follows extensive efforts, which are detailed in the next section, to develop the site for other renewable energy facilities. These efforts were initiated in earnest around 2010, and concluded in June 2012 when NextEra Energy Resources acquired the resulting assets.[4]

In 2013, NextEra Energy submitted a proposal to modify the project size to three 125 MW sections, and one 110 MW section, for a total of 485 MW on 4,070 acres.[5] Approval by the state was granted in January 2014.[6] On August 24, 2015, the Interior Department publicly announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had also approved the modification.[7]

NextEra began land clearing for the first production unit at the start of 2015.[8] Kaiser Permanente announced in February 2015 that it would buy 110MW of electricity from the project.[9] Construction activities ramped up quickly soon after in March 2015.[10] In November 2015, the California PUC announced its approval of a power purchase agreement between NextEra and Southern California Edison for 125MW of electricity from the second unit.[11]

The first two 110MW and 125MW units were commissioned in April and October 2016, respectively. Construction of additional units is pending identification of more buyers.[9] In September 2017 the Modesto Irrigation District agreed to purchase 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity over 20 years.[12]

Prior Development History[edit]

Blythe Solar was initially to be a 1000 MW, $6 billion parabolic trough solar thermal CSP plant, comprising four 242 MW units, located on 7,025 acres (2,843 ha) of Bureau of Land Management land, about 8 miles (13 km) west of the city of Blythe.[13][14] The project was originally developed by Solar Trust of America. Also Chevron Energy Solutions planned to participate in the project.[15][16][17] Solar Trust was formed as a majority-owned (70%) subsidiary of Solar Millennium. California will need from 15,000 to 20,000 MW of renewable energy to meet the 33% renewable electricity generation requirement by 2020.[18]

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved the project on September 15, 2010.[19][20][21] The Bureau of Land Management cleared the project to go ahead on October 25, 2010.[22]

In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy offered a $2.1 billion conditional loan guarantee to Solar Trust, to reduce the interest on the $2.8 billion cost of building the first half of the project.[23] The offer was rejected by Solar Trust.

In August 2011, Solar Trust of America announced that the first half of the project would use photovoltaic panels instead of solar thermal power.[24][25] Another trust partner, Solarhybrid (a German solar energy developer), was in talks with First Solar for supply of photovoltaic modules.[26]

In 2012, Solar Millennium tried to sell its stake in Solar Trust to Solarhybrid;[27] however, this deal collapsed and Solar Trust filed for bankruptcy protection.[28] NextEra Energy Inc. was the top bidder for the project, according to an attorney representing creditors, acquiring the project in June 2012.[4]

Electricity Production[edit]

Generation (MW·h) of Blythe Solar 110, LLC [29]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2016 6,024 14,435 28,283 31,159 26,260 30,601 24,481 21,036 16,608 12,444 211,331
2017 10,816 12,081 22,584 24,097 30,729 33,285 30,311 28,042 26,130 24,074 14,881 15,656 272,685
Average Annual Production (2017) 273,000
Generation (MW·h) of Blythe Solar II, LLC [30]
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2016 10,775 17,966 17,318 16,040 22,189 17,222 101,510
2017 13,846 15,465 28,909 30,846 39,337 42,609 38,801 35,897 33,450 30,817 19,049 20,042 349,067
Average Annual Production (2017) 349,000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NextEra's Blythe Solar Energy Center
  2. ^ Energy Acuity-Blythe Project Timeline
  3. ^ California Energy Commission-Blythe Project Timeline
  4. ^ a b "NextEra Wins Auction for World's Biggest Solar Project". 2012-06-22. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
  5. ^ NextEra Chops Blythe Solar Project Proposal Amid Switch to Solar PV
  6. ^ California approves $1.13 bln NextEra Blythe solar power plant, Reuters, Jan 15, 2014
  7. ^ Interior Department Approves 485-Megawatt Blythe Mesa Solar Project in California Archived 2016-04-03 at the Wayback Machine, August 24, 2015
  8. ^ Chris Clarke, Vegetation Clearing Starts at Blythe Solar, KCET January 23, 2015
  9. ^ a b Kaiser to buy solar power from Riverside County project, Desert Sun, February 19, 2015
  10. ^ Riverside County approves massive new solar plant, Desert Sun, May 12, 2015
  11. ^ California PUC Reviews Southern California Edison Deal with 131-MW Solar Project
  12. ^ Roth, Sammy (29 September 2017). "Riverside County solar project scores $131-million deal with Central Valley farm district". Desert Sun. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  13. ^ Streater, Scott (August 26, 2010). "1,000-Megawatt Plant in Calif. Marks New Milestone in Solar Expansion". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Bureau of Land Management. Map of Solar Energy Applications: Palm Springs – South Coast Field Office, Bureau of Land Management Archived 2011-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Kane, Will (2010-10-26). "Turtles last hurdle for huge Blythe Solar project". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  16. ^ "Groundbreaking for Blythe Solar Power Project". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. June 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  17. ^ Top 6 Utility-scale Fast-tracked Solar Projects Renewable Energy World, September 1, 2010.
  18. ^ Gov. Brown signs law requiring 33% of energy be renewable by 2020
  19. ^ McBride, Sarah (2010-09-15). "World's largest solar plant wins key approval". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  20. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (2010-09-15). "1,000-megawatt Blythe solar power cleared by state regulators". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  21. ^ Louey, Sandy (2010-09-15). "Energy Commission Licenses 1,000 MW Solar Power Plant". California Energy Commission. Archived from the original on 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2010-09-15.
  22. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (October 25, 2010). "Blythe solar project gets BLM approval in Riverside County". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  23. ^ Baker, David R. (April 19, 2011). "Solar Trust of Oakland wins federal loan support". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
  24. ^ Kanellos, Michael (August 18, 2011). "Dark Day for Solar Thermal: Solar Trust Switches 500MW Power Plant to PV". Greentech Media. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  25. ^ Woody, Todd (August 18, 2011). "Solar Developer Says No Thanks to $2.1 Billion Federal Loan Guarantee". Forbes. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  26. ^ "First Solar could supply two major U.S. projects". Reuters. 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  27. ^ Kaufmann, K. (2012-02-07). "Solar Millennium sells Blythe, Palen projects to solarhybrid". The Desert Sun. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  28. ^ Stempel, Jonathan; Bryan, Victoria (2012-04-02). "Solar Trust of America files bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
  29. ^ "Blythe Solar 110 LLC, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  30. ^ "Blythe Solar II LLC, Monthly". Electricity Data Browser. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved February 1, 2019.

External links[edit]