Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt (MWAC) photovoltaic power station under construction in the Sonoran Desert, California. It will use approximately 8.8 million cadmium telluride modules made by the US thin-film manufacturer First Solar. After its final completion expected in 2015, it will become one of the world's largest PV power stations.
Project construction will take place in two phases, both of which are supported by power purchase agreements.
Phase I will have a capacity of 300 MW, which will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Phase II will have a capacity of 250 MW, which will be sold to Southern California Edison. The project is expected to involve more than 550 construction jobs in Riverside County, California. The project will be built on over 6 square miles (16 km2) of creosote bush-dominated desert habitat near Desert Center next to Joshua Tree National Park. Construction began in September, 2011 and final completion is expected in 2015.
The $1.46 billion in loans for the project are partially guaranteed by DOE and will be funded by a group of investors led by Goldman Sachs Lending Partners, which submitted the project under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. as co-lead arranger.
In 2012 the National Parks Conservation Association issued a report identifying three desert solar power plants sited within five miles of National Parks in the California Desert as projects that they suggest should not have been approved in their locations, including the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. The group cites damage to visual resources, and impacts on desert species. Of concern are the impact on rare regional plants and animals such as Desert bighorn, burro deer, Palm Springs round tail ground squirrel and the federally threatened desert tortoise. A June 2014 report details the potential impact on bird populations.
Clean energy advocate John Podesta, in a speech on large-scale solar facilities and desert solar noted, "So even as we look to expand clean energy production on public lands and in public waters, we must keep the day-to-day work of environmental protection in mind. Renewable energy projects can still disrupt the natural environment if put in the wrong places and if proper precautions are not taken—an outcome fundamentally at odds with the reasons we’re developing clean energy in the first place."
- FirstSolar.com Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
- "DOE Closes on Four Major Solar Projects". Renewable Energy World. 30 September 2011.
- "Desert Sunlight Solar Farm Project". Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- "Group Calls For Strict Limits on Solar Power Near National Parks". KCET. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- "First Solar Desert Sunlight Solar Farm: Comments Due". www.basinandrangewatch.org. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- Kagan, Rebecca A (2014-06-23). "Avian Mortality at Solar Energy Faciites in California: A Preliminary Analysis". Palen Solar Power Project - Compliance. Retrieved 2014-12-07.
- John Podesta (February 11, 2011). "Clean energy development done right". Department of Interior Workshop. Retrieved 2 September 2013.