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Construction starts on 25MW US desert solar project

SolarWorld breaks ground on 164 acre Mojave desert projects in California

The project will add to solar developments in the Mojave desert

Construction has started on a large scale US desert solar project. US solar manufacturer SolarWorld has begun construction of its 25MW Desert Star Solar Projects in the Mojave Desert, California. Once complete it will be one of the state’s largest solar installations.

The projects are situated on two land parcels totaling 164 acres between the communities of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. They will feed an estimated 58,312 MWh of renewable energy annually into the Southern California Edison electrical grid, enough to annually power 9,000 typical American homes. The projects are expected to eliminate about 31,000 tons of carbon emissions each year

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) division of SolarWorld, which owns the land and projects near Twentynine Palms, California, is overseeing all phases of the projects. This includes design, engineering, procurement, permitting and construction. Once completed later this year, Desert Star will rank among California’s largest operating crystalline-silicon solar installations.

Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, said: “Desert Star is the latest in a line of utility-scale projects dating to the early 1980s that demonstrates the deep experience and wide-ranging capabilities of SolarWorld’s EPC division. The projects spotlight the best of American solar ingenuity, combining our US manufactured solar panels and single-axis tracker with some of the country’s brightest solar engineering and construction talent.”

The projects will feature 100,092 SolarWorld Sunmodule solar panels manufactured in the company’s Hillsboro, Ore., factory and mounted on SolarWorld’s American-made Suntrac single-axis trackers. Designed to streamline installation costs and improve mechanical reliability for utility-scale solar installations, the company said the Suntrac tracker can boost a system’s electricity production by up to 21 per cent, compared with fixed ground-mount racking.

SolarWorld began acquiring and designing the Desert Star Solar Projects in spring this year. Grading and site preparation began in June. Beginning in September, SolarWorld plans to hire about 150 local trade and non-trade workers for construction and permanent operations and maintenance positions. The company estimates the installation will infuse USD 5.2 million into the local economy during construction.