World's Largest Power Plant Gains Approval for Construction

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The world's largest power plant, a $6 billion venture, recently gained government approval to go up as early as November (Efstathiou). Backed by the Obama administration, this project is projected to more than double all of U.S. solar output and can power at least 300,000 homes. The project, which has been dubbed a milestone by the Obama administration, is the sixth solar venture authorized on federal lands within the last month. Following suit, the plant will be constructed in a desert area, near Blythe, California (MSNBC.com).

The plant will function through a "parabolic trough" where parabolic mirrors focus the sun's energy onto collector tubes. Fluid in the collector tubes will be heated by the sun and sent to a boiler, which will in turn send steam to a turbine to produce electricity. A seventh project is projected to be proposed soon. If approved, the seven plants combined will generate more than 3,000 megawatts of power and provide electricity for up to two million homes (MSNBC.com). Also, the Blythe project will create more than 1,066 construction jobs and 295 permanent jobs, according to the Interior Department (Efstathiou).

Construction will begin this year, in order to qualify for a Treasury Department grant totaling 30 percent of a project's cost as part of last year's economic stimulus package. The plant will begin production in 2013 (MSNBC.com).

The project has received a lot of approval, especially from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "The Blythe Solar Power Project is a major milestone in our nation's renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future," Salazar said. Johanna Wald, the National Resources Defense Council's senior attorney, agreed, "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" (Efstathiou

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