Developer Solar Millennium has announced that the Blythe solar power project in California is to convert from solar thermal technology to photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which highlights how falling costs have improved to draw of PV for large-scale projects.

Solar Millennium has confirmed that the first 500 MW phase of the plant will use PV panels and when completed, the two-phase project will be 1000 MW – projecting it to be the largest solar plant in the world.

Solar Millennium hasn’t yet chosen which technology it will use for the second half of the 1000 MW project.

The company recently received a conditional loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to develop a concentrating solar thermal plant. But Germany-based Solar Millennium and its US subsidiary said it will use commercial financing and PV technology instead.

GTM research analyst Brett Prior said. “This is the first (technology change) where they explicitly said that that economics drove the decision. The other proposed solar thermal projects switched to PV for different reasons.”

“The advantages of CSP as a grid-stabilizing renewable energy source with storage capabilities are obvious and highly valued by utilities elsewhere in the world. They will soon become systematically acknowledged in the US, as well. This includes the use of hybrid PV/CSP plants,” Christoph Wolff, CEO of Solar Millennium said.

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