EDF Renewables plans to develop the Palen solar PV project using single-axis tracking system. Image courtesy of James Moran.
The 500MW Palen solar PV project is located in Riverside County, California, US. Image courtesy of James Moran.

Palen solar project is a 500MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power project to be developed by EDF Renewables on a 3,478-acre site, approximately 16km east of Desert Centre, in Riverside County, California, US.

The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the US Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the availability of the final environmental impact report for the project in May 2018.

Construction on the project is expected to start by the end of 2018 and grid connection is expected by 2020.

The Palen solar project is expected to produce enough clean electricity to power 100,000 California homes, while supporting California Government’s recent historic legislation to push the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045.

The project is also expected to generate 1,145 jobs for the local community in Riverside, during the peak construction phase.

The estimated operational life of the project is minimum 30 years. 

Palen solar farm site and make-up 

The Palen solar power project site is located on vacant lands between Interstate 10 and Joshua Tree National Park within a BLM Solar Energy Zone and Development Focus Area, which is specially reserved for utility-scale renewable energy projects.

The solar facility will comprise a single large solar farm consisting of 200 power blocks of 2.5MW generating capacity each.

Each block will utilize either Crystalline Silicon or Copper Indium Gallium Selenide panels to be mounted on 18ft-high horizontal single-axis trackers to ensure maximum absorption of sunlight throughout the day.

Electricity generated from each solar module will be transmitted via transformers to the on-site substation located on the northern portion of the project site.

An approximately 11km-long single-circuit 230kV overhead generation interconnection (gen-tie) transmission line will connect the project substation with Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Red Bluff Substation.

Other infrastructure facilities for the project will include an operations and maintenance building, a 28-acre temporary construction laydown area, ten on-site groundwater wells, the main access road from Interstate 10/ Corn springs interchange, and an access road along the gen-tie line.

Palen solar project development history

The Palen solar project was originally planned to be developed as a concentrated solar power plant.

The project development history traces back to 2007 when Chevron Energy applied for Rights of Way (ROW) for the site from BLM.

Solar Millenium, a subsidiary of Chevron, submitted a plan of development (POD) application for the project to use solar parabolic trough technology in 2008 and received approval for the same from the California Energy Commission in 2010.

After Solar Millenium went bankrupt, BrightSource Energy filed an application for replacing the parabolic trough technology with two 750ft towers and heliostat arrays.

BrightSource formed a joint venture with Abengoa Solar to develop the project in 2013.

Abengoa Solar bought Brightsource’s shares in the joint venture to become the sole owner of the project in 2014.

EDF Renewables acquired the project from Abengoa Solar and submitted a POD application for a solar PV facility in 2015.

The BLM and Riverside County jointly published the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project in October 2017.