The solar project, which is estimated to cost $1bn, will generate enough clean energy to power 117,000 homes


Desert in Riverside County, California. (Credit: Bureau of Land Management)

The Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the US Department of the Interior, has given its approval for the construction of a 450MW Desert Quartzite Solar Project, to be located in Riverside County, California.

Desert Quartzite, a subsidiary of First Solar has secured permission to construct, operate, and maintain the solar project, which will be located on nearly 3,000 acres of public lands.

The solar plant is part of the Department of Interior’s America First Energy Plan, a strategy that supports the development of energy project on public lands to improve infrastructure and create jobs across local economies.

Desert Quartzite solar project construction could create 870 jobs

For the project, an infrastructure investment of $1bn could be made, resulting in annual operations economic benefits of $3m for the local economy. During the peak construction period, the solar project could generate nearly 870 jobs.

The power generated from the solar project will be enough to be supplied to 117,000 Californian homes and provide up to $2.7m in annual rent and fees to the US Treasury.

The BLM has authorised the construction of a main generation area, an on-site substation, switchyard, site security, a 230kV generation-tie line and an operations and maintenance facility.

Expected to take up to 30 months to complete, the solar plant could be operations by 2022.

Land and Minerals Management Acting Assistant Secretary Casey Hammond said “The Department of the Interior supports moving forward with the Desert Quartzite solar project and other projects that help strengthen communities and promote energy independence. Responsible domestic energy production on Federal lands remains fundamental to our nation’s security.”

In December last year, First Solar had sold three solar projects totaling 278MW in the US, to a partnership of EDP Renewables and ConnectGen.

The three projects include the 154MW Sun Streams 1 project in Maricopa County, Arizona, the 20MW Windhub A project in Kern County, California and the 103MW Sunshine Valley project in Nye County, Nevada. The three projects achieved substantial completion in fourth quarter, last year.