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Construction begins on 800MW US solar power project

Mega PV project is the world’s largest under construction with first phase to power 65,000 homes in California

The 800MW PV power project is being constructed in California

Construction has started on an 800MW solar power project in the US. Firm 8minutenergy Renewables, an independent solar PV developer based in California, has completed all requirements to begin the first phase of the mega solar project, which is currently the world’s largest under construction.

The first project being developed is the 266MW Mount Signal Solar farm. It represents the first of three phases of the 800MW-dc (600MW-ac) solar PV power project.

The solar energy plant is being built on 1,940 acres of low-productivity farmland in Imperial County, California. It will provide clean, renewable PV power to around 65,000 households under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The solar generation plant will displace the equivalent of approximately 356,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Commercial operation is scheduled for early 2014.

Martin Hermann, chief executive officer of 8minutenergy Renewables, said: "We are thrilled to see the initial phase of this eventual 800MW solar project, and the first of our many solar PV projects under development, begin construction.”

The final hurdle to begin construction of the Mount Signal Solar was finalising the USD 636m in project financing. This was recently closed by 8minutenergy's joint development partner, AES Solar. When complete, the plant will connect with SDG&E's Imperial Valley substation. Its renewable solar energy will then be transmitted over the utility's Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.  The line was completed earlier this year with a mandate to transport renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego.

Tom Buttgenbach, president of 8minutenergy Renewables, said: "The construction of Mount Signal Solar will share the benefits of the energy boom in the region directly with the people of Imperial County through new jobs and other economic benefits. We are proud of working closely with key environmental groups to mitigate biological impacts and advance this solar project. We look forward to seeing the completion of construction and to the transmission of clean renewable solar power to help SDG&E and the state of California meet its 33 per cent RPS mandate."

8minutenergy has over 2,000MW of solar PV power under development in California. Construction starting on its Mount Signal Solar power plant follows the announcement of other PV projects in the state. This includes Campo Verde solar farm, a 139MW PV project which Arizona firm First Solar announced it would develop in August this year. Meanwhile, the McHenry solar plant, a 25MW solar power plant for an irrigation district in California, was completed in October.