PRINCETON, USA: NRG Energy Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary NRG Solar LLC, has acquired the first and largest utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar project in California.
The 21 megawatt (MW) Blythe Solar Project will be NRG’s first solar generation facility in operation when it comes online later this year. The site was acquired from First Solar, Inc., a leader in advanced and efficient thin film solar technology focused on manufacturing solar panels and developing solar projects for utilities and generators to operate.
Located in Riverside County in southeastern California, approximately 200 miles east of Los Angeles, the solar PV field will provide electricity to Southern California Edison (SCE) under a 20-year power purchase agreement. At peak capacity, the site will be able to meet the needs of almost 17,000 homes.
“Successfully transitioning to a low-and no-carbon energy environment means using renewable resources that are located where the demand is,” said David Crane, President and Chief Executive Officer of NRG Energy.
“Partnering with companies like First Solar to add large-scale PV solar to the fleet of solar thermal power plants we are developing with eSolar positions us to lead the industry in the commercial implementation of solar technologies where America can best reap the benefits of this emission-free power.”
“Solar fields generate the greatest amount of clean energy when electricity demand is highest, making this an ideal technology for utilities, municipalities and companies looking to diversify their renewable portfolios and reduce carbon intensity while ensuring that energy needs are met,” said Tom Doyle, President, NRG Solar.
“With this acquisition, NRG joins with SCE to add to and further diversify their portfolio of low- and no-carbon generation while we establish a relationship with First Solar and a platform for future solar development.”
As part of the acquisition of the nearly completed Blythe Solar project, NRG Solar has entered into an engineering, procurement and construction agreement with First Solar for completion and performance testing of the project. Testing is expected to commence later this month, and the project to be completed by year end.
The site uses approximately 350,000 photovoltaic solar modules, each measuring 2 feet by 4 feet, manufactured with First Solar’s advanced thin film semiconductor technology to turn sunlight directly into electricity. It covers approximately 200 acres of held land which is fully permitted and will be connected to SCE’s electrical distribution grid. The project uses no water during normal operation.
NRG Solar is responsible for developing, constructing, financing and operating a multi-technology portfolio of solar power assets in North America. Blythe is part of NRG’s zero-emission solar strategy that also includes plans to construct commercial-scale solar thermal generation at sites in California and New Mexico.
The first of these units is anticipated to begin operating as early as 2011. NRG is also working to develop solar capacity at nationwide sites with strong solar resources and established, easily accessible connections to power grids. NRG’s other low- and no- carbon developments include new nuclear generation, onshore and offshore wind, biomass projects and a commercial-scale carbon capture project for fossil-fueled generation.