Solar power plant switches to PV from thermal

Developers of the giant Blythe Solar Power Project in California have switched from solar thermal technology to photovoltaic solar panels, one of a string of similar changes at large-scale solar projects. Solar Millennium today said that the first 500-megawatt phase of the Blythe plant will use photovoltaic (PV) panels because the economics work better. The company earlier this year had received a conditional loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to develop a concentrating solar thermal plant, where heat from mirrored troughs makes steam which is passed through a turbine to generate electricity. But Germany-based Solar Millennium and its US subsidiary said it will use commercial financing and PV technology instead. Seven other utility-scale solar projects in the southwest U.S. have decided to scrap concentrating solar power (CSP) for PV. All told, that's about 2,515 megawatts of solar capacity that has converted, according to GTM Research analyst Brett Prior. The moves underscore how falling costs have improved the competitiveness of PV for large-scale projects. Solar PV prices have fallen by more than 50 percent over the last two years, making them more attractive to both the energy developer and institutions putting up the money to finance these projects.

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