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U.S. OKs World’s Largest Solar Plant

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the world’s largest solar power plant, a $6 billion project in California, according to Bloomberg News.

Solar Millenium LLC of Oakland, California, agreed to fund conservation measures protecting the desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard in return for permission to build the Blythe Solar Power Project on public land, the Interior Department said today. Blythe will use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy rather than solar panels that convert light directly into electricity.

Blythe Solar will cover 7,025 acres on a site 216 miles east of Los Angeles, producing as many as 1,000 megawatts, the Interior Department said. The facility will use rows of parabolic mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto tubes that carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends steam to a turbine.

“The Blythe project and others approved by Interior demonstrate the need for the agency to improve the permitting process,” Johanna Wald, NRDC’s senior attorney, said in a statement. “By making future renewable-energy projects smart from the start, we can better ensure their biggest impact is on our energy supply, not other natural resources.”

On Oct. 5, Salazar approved on Oct. 5 projects in California proposed by Chevron and Tessera Solar. Before today’s announcement, four solar facilities on public lands in California and a project in Nevada with capacity to generate a total of 1,800 megawatts of electricity won approval this month. A megawatt is enough to power about 800 average U.S. homes, according to the Energy Department.

 

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