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22 December 2009


First Solar and NRG start up California’s largest PV plant

Commercial operation has started at the 21MW solar power project in Blythe, CA, which is the largest photovoltaic (PV) plant in California. Developed and built in three months by First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which manufactures thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), it was acquired in November by NRG Energy Inc of Princeton, NJ through its subsidiary NRG Solar. The plant's electricity output is being sold to Southern California Edison (SCE) under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Located in Riverside County about 200 miles east of Los Angeles, the Blythe plant is the largest thin-film PV project in the USA and is five times the size of the next largest PV project in California. The Blythe plant will generate over 45,000MW-hrs of electricity per year, avoiding 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually (the equivalent of taking more than 2200 cars off the road). NRG estimates that, at peak capacity, it can supply the power needs of almost 17,000 homes. First Solar will provide operations and maintenance services under a long-term contract with NRG.

“It is forward-thinking businesses such as First Solar that will help California reach its nation-leading greenhouse gas reduction and Renewable Portfolio Standard goals, as well as create the new green jobs that will help spur our economic recovery,” comments California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Solar is the great untapped resource in California, and we are pleased to be part of this significant milestone for solar development in our state,” says Marc Ulrich, SCE vice president, Renewables and Alternative Power. “Bringing this power to the grid helps SCE maintain its position as the nation’s leading utility for renewable energy.”

First Solar expanded its offerings in California in 2008. The Blythe plant is a model for First Solar’s future large-scale solar developments. “The development, project finance and construction of this solar plant demonstrate First Solar’s capabilities in utility-scale projects,” says the firm’s president Bruce Sohn. “We are pleased to be bringing it online ahead of schedule.”

See related items:

CdTe PV maker First Solar forecasts 2010 sales of $2.7–2.9bn

First Solar becomes first PV firm to produce 1GW in a single year

First Solar sells California’s largest PV power plant to NRG

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