News From Solar Trust of America, LLC


Solar Trust of America Enters Into Agreement With Chairman & CEO Uwe T. Schmidt

- October 12, 2010

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Blythe Solar Power Plant Receives California Energy Commission Approval

- September 15, 2010

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New York Times Logo

1,000-Megawatt Plant in Calif. Marks New Milestone in Solar Expansion

- August 26, 2010

Federal regulators are nearing final approval of what would be the largest solar power plant in the world, a milestone that sets a new standard for the industry and marks a major advancement in the Obama administration's efforts to expand renewable energy production nationwide.

The Bureau of Land Management has issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Blythe Solar Power Project in southeast California. When fully operational, the solar thermal power plant would have the capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power roughly 800,000 homes.

The final EIS, which is considered the last federal regulatory hurdle before a record of decision authorizing construction, is open for public comment through Sept. 18. The California Energy Commission, which must also render a decision on the Blythe plant, formally recommended this month that the project be approved.

"We're already beginning work on the record of decision, on compliance monitoring plans, on getting all the paperwork together for the rentals and reclamation, and our hope is to package it all together for one big signing" as early as October, said Holly Roberts, associate field manager for BLM's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office in Palm Springs, Calif.

Solar Millennium LLC, the Oakland, Calif.-based project developer, said it will take at least six years to complete all four phases of the $6 billion project, which will be located on 7,025 acres of BLM land in Riverside County, about eight miles west of the city of Blythe.

When completed, the Blythe plant would nearly double the current 585 megawatts of installed commercial-scale solar generation nationwide and would have a capacity to generate nearly three times the electricity produced at the country's largest solar facility -- the nine-unit, 354-megawatt Solar Energy Generating Systems plant in Kramer Junction, Calif., according to statistics provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Solar Millennium's executive chairman, called the project "a bold statement" about solar power's potential and his company's ambitions to lead the industry.

"A 1,000-megawatt plant is a grand undertaking," Schmidt said. "But the benefits are so positive. The Blythe facility will take some 2 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year. We will be doing our part [in] improving the overall environment of our planet."

A bright future

The Blythe project is also a significant step for federal efforts to expand renewable energy from sources like wind, solar and geothermal power, with the Southern California desert poised to become the solar capital of the world.

"This project will be the signature project for the industry," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "It gives the industry a level of credibility that we haven't had to date simply because solar has been small scale. But if projects like this can move forward, it will show the country we do not need to be dependent on toxic energy sources any more, and we can rely on solar to provide a large portion of the country's energy."

Indeed, that vision has already taken hold on the federal level.

Since Aug. 1, BLM has issued final EISs for five commercial-scale solar power plants that, once built, will cover nearly 26,000 acres of BLM land in the Southern California desert and produce enough electricity to power roughly 2.4 million homes.

The Blythe plant is the fifth of nine proposed solar projects in California that BLM has placed on a "fast-track" permitting schedule with hopes of getting the projects under construction by the end of the year. Projects underway by year's end can qualify for lucrative federal grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

A final EIS for a sixth solar plant -- the 250-megawatt Genesis Solar Energy Project -- is expected to be released for public comment on Friday, said Roberts, the BLM associate field manager.

The Genesis plant, proposed by NextEra Energy Resources LLC, would sit on 1,800 acres of BLM land in Riverside County, about 25 miles west of Blythe.

All together, the nine solar plants would cover 41,229 acres of BLM land and have the capacity to generate 4,580 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 3.8 million businesses and homes, according to federal estimates (Land Letter, Aug. 12).

"I think Blythe and the others will help the U.S. reclaim our position as the world's leader in installed industrial-scale solar," Resch said. "It makes a very clear statement that the U.S. will be the center of all solar development going forward."

Few complaints

For a project of its size, the Blythe proposal has drawn relatively little environmental controversy.

The project site is dominated by Sonoran creosote bush scrub, and only a handful of endangered Mojave desert tortoises have been spotted. Still, construction and operation of the plant could result in "individual tortoises being crushed or entombed in their burrows," according to the final EIS, and some tortoises will need to be relocated.

Roughly 7,000 acres of Sonoran scrub that is used for foraging by golden eagles and other species would be graded to make room for the solar equipment, according to the final EIS. Regulators say such habitat is notoriously difficult to restore and could take as long as 3,000 years to completely recover from a project of Blythe's size (Land Letter, March 18).

Solar Millennium will have to purchase a 7,000-acre desert tract as mitigation for the lost wildlife habitat, either turning the land over to BLM or paying for the long-term management of the site, Roberts said.

In addition, some environmentalists are concerned about the project's impacts on ephemeral desert washes through which water from nearby mountain ranges flows across the site to the Colorado River. The Palo Verde Mesa Basin where the plant would be built is considered a tributary to the Colorado River, which is one of the most regulated waterways in the West and a vital freshwater source for millions of people.

The company plans to build five "engineered channels" that are designed to reroute this water to flow around the project site.

"We want to make sure they engineer these correctly so that the downstream impacts are minimized," said Ileene Anderson, a staff biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity in Los Angeles.

But she added: "Considering the project is adjacent to existing development, in this case agriculture, that site has not given us as much heartburn as some of the others. I can't say we're supportive of the project, but in the hierarchy of projects that impact rare species, it doesn't have as many impacts."

Click here to read the final EIS.

Streater writes from Colorado Springs, Colo.

View the Original Article


Palm Springs Desert Sun Logo

Hundreds of jobs linked to solar projects

Palm Springs Desert Sun - August 22, 2010

Tentative approvals for two massive solar projects planned for public land east of the Coachella Valley could create hundreds of construction jobs in the next few years and serve as a springboard for long-term development, drawing green technology companies and manufacturers to the region.

That was the two-pronged message coming out of Thursday's meeting of the Renewable Energy Roundtable at UC Riverside's Palm Desert campus, where valley civic and business officials heard an update on four solar projects slated for development on federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and Blythe.

For Mayor Yvonne Parks of Desert Hot Springs, the projects mean one thing: "Jobs, jobs, jobs."

"That's what we're all striving for, local workers, local vendors," Parks said. "We've got construction workers who can do anything."

The Solar Millennium Blythe project, a 1,000-megawatt solar thermal plant, could be first past the post, earning a preliminary recommendation for approval from the California Energy Commission on Aug. 11.

A final vote is set for a commission meeting on Sept. 15 in Sacramento and, pending other construction approvals, the project could break ground by Nov. 1, said Bill Owens, director of project development for Solar Millennium.

"In any case, we'll do some construction by the end of the year," Owens told the roundtable on Thursday. "We'll be out there about 39 to 60 months" for construction.

Next up after the Blythe plant could be NextEra Energy's Genesis project, a 250-megawatt solar thermal installation, which got its preliminary approval from the commission on Thursday.

The commission's final vote is scheduled for Sept. 29, also in Sacramento.

Owens estimated the Blythe project, which will be built in stages, will employ about 600 workers a year during construction and then provide 200 long-term jobs for operation.


Solar Trust of America’s Blythe Power Plant Project Receives CEC Recommendation

- August 13, 2010

Oakland, California, August 13, 2010 – Solar Trust of America today announced that its project development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has received a proposed decision from the California Energy Commission (CEC) granting the license to build and operate its Blythe Solar Power Project (BSPP) in Riverside County, which would be the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) facility in the world.  The recommendation marks an important milestone in the company’s efforts to obtain final approval to build four 242-megawatt plants, totaling 1,000 megawatts of nominal generating capacity, in Riverside County.

The CEC has determined that the planned facility complies with all applicable laws and regulations. BSPP would employ dry-cooled technology and would use 90 percent less water than previous plant designs, primarily for mirror washing, feed water and onsite domestic use.

The proposed decision is scheduled to be considered for vote by the CEC Commissioners in September following a public comment period.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently approved Solar Millennium, LLC’s power purchase agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison (SCE) for two 242-megawatt (MW) solar power plants planned in Blythe, California. The agreement regulates SCE's purchase of electricity produced by the facilities for 20 years from the start of operations. Solar Millennium, LLC has two PPA’s in place with Southern California Edison.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of Solar Millennium, LLC, said the licensing recommendation is another positive indication of California’s goals regarding the use of renewable energy and the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring electricity providers to increase the use of renewable energy to 20 percent this year and up to 33 percent by 2020.

“We are extremely pleased with the CEC’s recommendation and efforts to accelerate the approval process for our Blythe project,” said Schmidt. “Our nation’s clean energy development initiatives are at a critical crossroads, and we expect to be a leading force in helping California meet its renewable energy goals and provide a significant boost to the state’s economy.”

Solar Trust’s Blythe Solar Power Plant Recommended for Approval/2

Josef Eichhammer, President of Solar Trust of America and CEO of Solar Millennium LLC, said, "The recent approval of our power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison by the CPUC and this proposed decision by the CEC for our Blythe Solar Power Project are a crucial step towards completing the permitting process. We believe that we will obtain the record of decision for the construction permit by the Bureau of Land Management for Blythe  following the issuance of the CEC license. We plan to receive all construction permits this fall and to finalize the financing for our first project, representing approximately 484 megawatts of generating capacity so that we can start construction by the end of this year.”

About Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium, LLC

Solar Trust of America, LLC is an integrated industrial solar solutions company strategically positioned to support the critical need for renewable energy generation in the United States. The company’s Project Development, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), financial resources and operational management expertise ensures the delivery of a fully integrated concentrated solar power solution using commercially viable and proven parabolic trough solar thermal energy technology.
Together with its wholly owned U.S. development subsidiary, Oakland, California-based Solar Millennium, LLC, and global business partners Solar Millennium AG and Ferrostaal AG, Solar Trust of America is actively pursuing the construction and development of multiple solar thermal power plants across the southwestern U.S. The company currently has nine solar thermal energy power plants in advanced stages of development near Ridgecrest, Blythe and Desert Center, California, as well as in the Amargosa Valley near Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information about the company visit www.SolarTrustOfAmerica.com.


Renewable Energy World Logo

US Needs To Act Quickly To Develop Renewable Energy

- August 06, 2010

Uwe T. SchmidtThe devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico dramatically raises the stakes in confronting the challenges we face in balancing America's energy needs with protecting its precious natural resources.

In his recent address to the nation, President Obama made a compelling case for passing a comprehensive energy bill that would reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, noting that the spill is, “the most painful and powerful reminder that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.”

It is unfortunate that it takes an environmental disaster to refocus national attention on the need to significantly diversify America’s energy base.

The question for the United States is how to best address such energy issues while at the same time developing its economy.

The President’s goal of establishing a national renewable electricity standard of 20 percent by 2020 rightly puts the country on the correct course, and Congress should pass energy legislation before the November elections to help put the country on that path.   

Our company, Solar Trust of America, is committed to building utility-scale concentrated solar thermal power plants to provide clean sources of energy to the nation that will help meet that mandate. We are developing several utility-scale solar plants, including three in California that will commence construction in 2010.  Once construction is complete, they will have capacities of nearly 1,700 megawatts and are expected to create approximately 1,800 construction jobs and another 200 permanent jobs.

Solar energy is ideally suited to meet America’s future energy needs. But, the federal government must continue to do its part to scale-up the industry. One of those ways is by expediting loan guarantee applications for renewable energy projects, particularly those involving solar plants.

Congress enacted the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program to help deploy clean energy technologies across the United States, but, unfortunately, the program has yet to spur the rapid deployment of them. Since its inception in 2005, the program has only granted conditional guarantees to thirteen projects, only four of which have been solar energy.  Of the four solar power projects two were announced on July 2, 2010.  It has taken years for some projects to advance through the process.

And while those two recent announcements indicate that the pace of awarding conditional guarantees is starting to pick up, of the $84.8 billion available in the programs, only about 17 percent of it has been conditionally awarded. “Fast-track” procedures must be implemented by the federal agencies involved to help expedite the disbursement of such guarantees. It is crucial that companies who have applied for such loans receive a commitment from DOE soon, as construction of many of those projects must start before the end of this year in order to meet both the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the deadlines of signed Power Purchase Agreements.

Often, a national crisis serves as a wake-up call to rally the public to a level that demands unprecedented action by its elected officials. President Obama made it clear that the nation’s top priorities are to stop the damaging flow of oil into the Gulf, continue the clean-up efforts necessary to protect its beautiful beaches and waterways and assist the coastal communities and their economies impacted by this crisis.

Equally important, though, is his call for bold actions that will spur the development of renewable energy and related projects that will create high paying jobs and stimulate domestic manufacturing. If programs such as the federal loan guarantee are not streamlined and significantly expedited, the nation runs the risk of not realizing the employment, economic, technological, and environmental benefits of large-scale renewable energy.

Uwe T. Schmidt is chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America, LLC, a position he has held since founding the company in August 2009. Mr. Schmidt brings more than 30 years of diversified experience in the global energy, steel, industrial plant construction, structured trade finance and commodities trading industries to his role as CEO to one of the world’s leading solar thermal energy companies.

The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on its Web site and other publications.

California Public Utilities Commission Approves Power Purchase Agreement for two 242 MW Power Plants

- July 15, 2010

San Francisco, July 15, 2010 - Solar Trust of America today announced that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a power purchase agreement between Solar Millennium's American project development unit Solar Millennium LLC, and the US energy provider Southern California Edison (SCE) for two 242-megawatt (MW) solar power plants planned in California. The agreement regulates SCE's purchase of electricity produced by the facilities for 20 years from the start of operations. The start of construction for at least one power plant is scheduled for the end of 2010, with initial operations planned for 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) was approved by the CPUC at the end of last week. Both power plants are scheduled to be built at the planned Blythe project location. A total of up to four 242-megawatt power plants can be realized there, which together would supply electricity of ca. 2,200 gigawatt hours annually and would save roughly 900,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

At the same time, Blythe is one of four power plant locations of Solar Trust of America LLC, a US-American joint venture of Solar Millennium AG and Ferrostaal AG, which has been put on the so-called fast-track list. The responsible authorities give priority to the approval process of projects on the fast-track list. The facilities planned in Blythe are important for reaching California's goals regarding the use of renewable energy and, at the same time, reviving its economy. The state's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program requires regional energy service providers to lift the share of renewable energy in their electricity supply to 20 percent by 2010 and up to 33 percent by 2020.

Josef Eichhammer, President of Solar Trust of America and CEO of Solar Millennium LLC, said, "We have reached another important milestone on the path towards realizing our first US power plant with the approval of the power purchase agreement by the CPUC. We also believe we will obtain the permit for construction of at least one power plant in Blythe in autumn and finalize the financing. The site is located near to Los Angeles. This area receives more than 2,700 kilowatt hours per square meter of direct normal irradiation every year, a figure more than 30 percent higher than in southern Spain."

Eichhammer added, "We are very satisfied with the progress thus far in developing our project locations. We have only asked the authorities to interrupt the approval process for our smallest project site in California, Ridgecrest, where a 242-megawatt facility is planned. We still want to carry out an additional study to examine all of the project's ecological effects as well as additional compensation measures. We are also holding on to this location with its excellent solar radiation values, but we want to keep the impact on the local ecosystems as low as possible and maximize the benefit for the environment."

About Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium LLC
Solar Trust of America (STA) is a joint venture of the Solar Millennium Group and the Ferrostaal Group and covers important business fields in the value chain for solar thermal power plants in the region of North America. This includes the business segments of project development and financing, engineering, turn-key construction and operation of power plants. Solar Millennium LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solar Trust of America.

About Solar Millennium AG
Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, (ISIN DE0007218406) is an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar-thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in parabolic trough power plants and has managed to take a globally leading position in this field. Solar Millennium strives to further extend its expertise in the area of solar-thermal power plants with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. As such, the Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar-thermal power plants: from project development and financing to the technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe's first parabolic trough power plants and realized these together with partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts: here the current regional focus is on Spain, the US, India, China, the Middle East and North Africa. More information can be found at www.SolarMillennium.de

About Southern California Edison:
Southern California Edison (SCE) is a company of Edison International (NYSE: EIX). As one of the largest utilities in the US, SCE provides roughly 11 million Californians with electricity.

About the technology:

Solar-thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the incidental radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.


VB Research Article on Solar Trust & Solar Millennium

- July 14, 2010

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Solar Trust of America Receives Industry Innovation Award

- July 01, 2010

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SOLAR TRUST OF AMERICA NAMES JOHN D. CLAPP AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

- June 01, 2010

Cleveland, Ohio - June 1, 2010 - Solar Trust of America, LLC, (STA) an integrated industrial solar solutions company, today announced that John D. Clapp has been appointed Chief Financial Officer for the leading developer of solar thermal power plants in the United States, effective immediately. He will report directly to Solar Trust of America Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Uwe T. Schmidt. Clapp will direct the financing for the company's solar thermal power plant projects in California and Nevada, which have been granted "Fast Track" status by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management.

Clapp led the Solar Trust of America client engagement team at Citigroup, which is actively involved in finance structuring and advisory services for Solar Trust's U.S. projects.

Clapp brings a wealth of experience to his new position, most recently having spent more than five years as a managing director of the Global Power Group in Citigroup's Corporate and Investment Bank in New York. At Citigroup, Clapp advised a wide range of electric utilities, independent power producers and renewable energy clients on project and corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and commodity hedging. As Citigroup's Global Power Sector Specialist, Clapp utilized his financial expertise and deep industry knowledge of power technologies and markets, and contributed to more than $71 billion in power sector financings in North and South America, Asia and Europe. Many of these transactions included Greenfield renewable energy project financings and tax equity investments.

Clapp was a key member of Citigroup's Global Alternative Energy team and was instrumental in leading the firm's financial advisory assignments for client's seeking renewable energy loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Clapp was the financial advisor for clients seeking more than $12 billion in loan guarantees for innovative renewable energy projects from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In welcoming Clapp to Solar Trust of America, CEO Uwe T. Schmidt said, "We are extremely pleased and excited to add a financial expert of John's caliber to our senior management team as we continue to build Solar Trust of America into the premier concentrated solar power plant developer, constructor and operator in North America. John's unique combination of skills and experience in renewable project finance, M&A, tax equity and his success in working with the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee program make him an ideal addition to our leadership team."

Prior to joining the Corporate and Investment Bank at Citigroup, Clapp spent more than 10 years as a leading economic and management consultant to electric utilities and project developers around the world. His background includes expertise in project finance, asset valuation and corporate management and strategy. Clapp holds a Bachelor's degree from Carleton College and a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University. He is a frequent speaker on financing issues in the power sector.

"This is an exciting opportunity to join a solar technology leader with a robust pipeline of solar power projects and a unique approach to project development and supply chain management that I believe will clearly set Solar Trust of America apart from its peers," said Clapp. "I am very impressed with STA's and Uwe T. Schmidt's vision for the future and excited to join the highly seasoned team of industry professionals he has assembled to develop, finance and construct multiple utility-scale solar projects in the southwestern U.S."

Thomas Mayer, spokesman of the Executive Board of Solar Millennium AG, said, "With John Clapp we were able to further strengthen Solar Trust's management team with an experienced top manager from the U.S. finance sector. Together with Uwe T. Schmidt, a seasoned CEO and successful entrepreneur with excellent contacts in the United States, and Josef Eichhammer, a tested and proven professional executive with more than 25 years of project development experience, the STA management team is perfectly positioned for the opportunities and challenges in the coming years."

Four proposed power plant locations in California and Nevada are on the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "Fast-Track" list. The approval process for projects on the "Fast-Track" list is given priority by the relevant regulatory agencies. If approved, Solar Trust would develop and build nine solar thermal power plants with generating capacity in excess of 2,300 megawatts (250 MW per plant) at these four sites.

Josef Eichhammer, President of STA and CEO of the wholly owned U.S. project development subsidiary Solar Millennium LLC, headquartered in Berkeley, California, said, "We are planning to begin construction on our first project in the fourth quarter of this year, and we are moving ahead expeditiously on all fronts. John Clapp is a great addition to our team and he will strengthen our efforts to structure and finalize the complex financing for our projects."

"We are planning to close the financing and officially commence building in the current fiscal year. We have filed applications for loan guarantees covering the planned power plants in California and Nevada with the U.S. Department of Energy."
Lutz Richter, former STA CFO and a valued member of the management team will work closely with Messrs. Schmidt, Eichhammer and Clapp moving forward.

About Solar Trust of America
Together with its wholly owned U.S. development subsidiary, Berkeley, California-based Solar Millennium, LLC, and global business partners Solar Millennium AG and Ferrostaal AG, Solar Trust of America is actively pursuing the construction and development of multiple solar thermal power plants across the southwestern U.S. The company currently has nine solar thermal energy power plants in advanced stages of development in Ridgecrest, Blythe and Palen, California, as well as in the Amargosa Valley near Las Vegas.

The nine proposed power plants, with an estimated cost of more than $1.5 billion each, are expected to employ up to 800 skilled workers each during their 2.5-years of construction and create over 85 high quality permanent jobs once in operation. These plants will indirectly create thousands of additional jobs as Solar Trust of America procures materials, manufactured goods and services for each facility.

Solar Trust of America, LLC is an integrated industrial solar solutions company strategically positioned to support the critical need for renewable energy generation in the United States. The company's Project Development, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), financial resources and operational management expertise ensures the delivery of a fully integrated concentrated solar power solution using commercially viable and proven parabolic trough solar thermal energy technology. For more information about the company visit www.SolarTrustOfAmerica.com.

Press and Analyst Contact: Bill Keegan, Director of Corporate Communications, Solar Trust of America, LLC, 312.927.8424, press@SolarTrustOfAmercia.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to Solar Trust of America, its subsidiaries and the solar industry. In particular, statements regarding plans, estimates, assumptions, expectations or projections about the future other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, forecasts concerning solar industry growth or other trend projections and statements about Solar Trust of America‘s strategies, objectives, goals, targets, outlook, and business and financial prospects. These statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.


The Press Enterprise

Don’t Derail Solar Projects In The Desert - April 07, 2010

Solar Trust of America Supports Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Solar Initiatives


Uwe T. Schmidt.jpg

CSP Today

20/20 Vision: Solar Trust of America is Seeing it all Clearly - March 03, 2010

Solar Trust of America, the joint venture between Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal, plans to take the US market by storm.

Using a strategy it calls 'Project Vision 2020', Solar Trust of America has set stringent goals - to shear 20 percent from its overall construction costs, boost output and cost efficiencies by 20 percent and displace the competition by amassing a hefty 20 percent share of the U.S. market, by 2020.

The prognosis looks promising. With the recent addition of Solar Millennium's proposed Nevada site to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) fast track list, Solar Trust of America could realize up to nine plants throughout California and Nevada, beating its own internal and external targets.

If approved prior to December 31st 2010, these projects will qualify for Department of Treasury's ITC cash grants and the Department of Energy's Federal Loan Guarantees program, all of which form part of the government's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus fund.

In addition, the company recently launched its new HelioTrough collector which the company says is more than 10 percent more efficient in thermal output and 10 percent more cost-efficient than its predecessor, the SKAL-ET. According to Solar Trust of America's CEO, Uwe Schmidt, HelioTrough delivers on the Project Vision 2020 targets insofar as the larger components have driven down logistics and labor costs, while the more efficient collector boosts output.

Replacing synthetic oil with molten salts as a heat transfer fluid could further augment this efficiency. Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium are testing molten salt as the heat transfer fluid in a next step at the test bed. At this stage, the company expects implementation of this novel heat transfer fluid in the second phase of its U.S. project portfolio.

While molten salt storage will not be integrated into its California projects at initial start-up construction in late 2010, the company says that a thermal storage solution will likely be integrated during the second phase of build-out as well as into its Nevada projects.

If and when it does, Solar Trust of America would be first to the U.S. market with parabolic trough technology using molten salts - based on Solar Millennium's experience in thermal storage experience at its three Andasol plants located in Spain, all of which are equipped with 7.5 full-load hours per day.

CSP Today's Rikki Stancich talks to Uwe Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America, to learn more about the latest HelioTrough technology and the key to a successful strategy.

Solar Trust of America is a vertically integrated joint venture between Solar Millennium (70%) and Ferrostaal (30%).

CSP Today: Solar Trust of America's wholly-owned subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC and its technology sister company, Flagsol, LLC ,both have received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy  and  have begun testing its latest technology, the HelioTrough. The company says the HelioTrough is the most efficient trough technology on the market. What is the level of efficiency and how has Solar Millennium achieved this?

Uwe Schmidt: The new collectors are now 192 metres in length (compared to the 148 metre length of their predecessors) and 6.7 metres wide, compared to 5.7 in the previous generation.

The collectors have a non-interrupted mirror surface with a significantly increased aperture, and the concentration ratio has been reduced from 82-times concentration to 76-times concentration as optical efficiency of the collector is so much improved.

The diameter of the heat-collecting element is also larger (89mm), allowing an increased flow of the heat transfer fluid and thus reducing pumping power parasitic.

We also aim to achieve plant efficiency gains by using molten salt as the heat transfer fluid, switching from synthetic oil to a molten salt mixture.

We have been testing the latter for quite some time. In these tests, we've managed to achieve operating temperatures at 500°Celcius, which would offer significantly higher cycle efficiencies when the process is fully proven and ready for day-by-day operation.

The HelioTrough collector design also reduces the labor requirement due to standardized components that allows for shorter construction times.

CSP Today: What has performance been like so far and when will the testing phase and performance measurements be completed?

Uwe Schmidt: The results we have achieved to date have exceeded our expectations - we are already delighted with the results. We will continue testing for a another 6-8 months.

CSP Today: Both the mirrors and the absorber pipes of the HelioTrough collectors are larger than current systems. What are the benefits and drawbacks of using larger components?

Uwe Schmidt: While some say bigger is not always better, from our current vantage point, it is.

Compared to the SKAL ET collectors at the Andasol 1 site, the HelioTrough achieves more than 10 percent greater efficiency with the bigger collector. This is due to an increased thermal output of the collector. The bigger collector size (appr. 1,300 sqm of aperture per collector, compared to appr. 850 sqm with the SKAL ET), there are cost savings for drives, gears, hydraulic pumps and flow measurement equipment.

But there is an optimal point of efficiency, beyond which diseconomies of scale set in, where for example, mirror maintenance would become an issue.

CSP Today: Solar Trust of America places an emphasis on supply chain management. Can you comment on this strategy?

Uwe Schmidt: When you are building plants with a US $1bn capital expenditure, there needs to be an emphasis on supply chain management.

Our strategy is to reduce the cost through good supply chain management, increase the output of the collector and lower the assembly cost.

Every decision we make is based on performance statistics - we take a logistics-based approach with profit-centered thinking, to reduce overall plant costs. The aim is to be more competitive than the market and still make money.

We have achieved this through the HelioTrough; we have achieved economies of scale by producing larger, standardized components, which in turn, streamlines our logistics path.

We have been very focused on promoting economies of scale. At our Mojave Desert sites, we are developing up to four plants that use one assembly facility, one supply chain route, and one transmission line access route.

With Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal, we are approaching a new sector, but following old economy philosophy and guidelines. We are focusing on the 'less sexy' supply chain management approach, using best-in-class partners -this sector definitely requires a consortium approach.

We have an opportunity to be shareholders in an efficient model going forward. Solar Trust of America was set up to build projects  - to handle the supply chain required to build those projects and then to stay involved in the facility post-construction, as an independent owner operator with a 20-25 percent equity stake.

CSP Today: Can you provide comment on Solar Trust of America's 'Project Vision 2020' strategy?

Uwe Schmidt: Project Vision 2020 forms the backbone of STA's internal and external strategy. Through this we aim to reduce investment costs by 20 percent; reduce assembly costs by 20 percent via sequencing used by our partner, Ferrostaal in the automotive assembly lines industry; we aim to improve the thermal performance of the collector and heat transfer fluid by a combined  20 percent; and ultimately, we have a very aggressive and ambitious goal of capturing 20 percent market share by 2020.

Currently we are at the permitting stage with our projects and are in discussions with the Department of Energy. If these projects are approved, we will be closer to having 40 percent of the solar thermal power plant market share in California, which is our primary focus, and 25 percent of the market share in Nevada.

Over the long-term, we'll have roughly 20 percent of the overall US market.

CSP today: In the future, what role do you envisage CSP playing in the larger energy picture?

Uwe Schmidt: There will be a mix of energy sources, but where CSP is concerned, for certain states like California with its 33 percent renewable energy target, there will need to be more plants in production than are currently earmarked for BLM's fast track programme

Wind and solar are complimentary, at least in California, in that wind supplies peaks in the morning and evening, while solar thermal power generates energy almost evenly throughout the day and can cover night peaks, too, in a cost efficient way that no other renewable source offers.  

Coal and gas will most likely be the base power sources, with peak loads coming today from gas turbines and, increasingly, solar thermal power plants - here's our target market segment!

So far, renewable energy sources such as wind and photovoltaic could only supplement the power demand as available. Concentrated solar thermal power plants with thermal storage, however, are matching Southwestern US peak demand perfectly, thus contributing the most valuable energy for the power system. With thermal storage, those peaking power contributions can be made fully dispatchable and are thus highly reliable for the utility companies.

We have no ambition to replace all energy sources with solar, but rather to play a complimentary role in the peaking and mid-load power market segment.  Demand for these segments will grow much faster that fossil fuel energy supplies. When considering that global energy demand will triple in size by 2050, we believe we are well positioned in the energy marketplace.

 


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Solar Trust Poised for Success - March 01, 2010

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Solar Trust of America

Solar Trust Tests Next Generation Collector Technology

- February 09, 2010

Cleveland, Ohio, and Berkeley, California - February 9, 2010 - Solar Trust of America, LLC, an integrated industrial solar solutions company, today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has begun testing the advanced parabolic trough solar radiation collector technology called HelioTrough at an existing solar power plant in the southwestern United States. The testing is designed to assess performance efficiency under commercial operating conditions before being deployed at proposed solar thermal energy power plants throughout the world.

Developed by The Solar Millennium Group's technology subsidiary, Flagsol GmbH, and its partners, the HelioTrough demonstration "loop" consists of two rows of collectors with a total length of 800 meters and was installed between September and November 2009. Flagsol also developed the previous generation of solar radiation collectors called Skal-ET, which was also developed by the Solar Millennium Group and is in operation at the Andasol solar thermal power plants in Spain and at the hybrid solar field power plant in Kuraymat, Egypt, which is currently under construction.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America, said the next-generation solar collector technology represents a breakthrough in design, engineering and performance. "HelioTrough is designed to be the most highly efficient and cost-effective parabolic trough solar collector available. We expect this technology to represent a breakthrough for solar thermal power plants and to further expand our leadership in the market."

Before being installed at the operating power plant for testing, the new HelioTrough technology was first deployed in a German factory to test the innovative design and assembly concepts and verify the geometric precision of the collectors. The early phases of the research and development for the HelioTrough were supported by the German Federal Environment Ministry. The set up, testing and operation of the HelioTrough collectors at the commercial operating plant in the southwestern United States are supported by a financial award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dr. Henner Gladen, Chief Technology Officer of Solar Millennium AG, is optimistic that the new HelioTrough collector technology will be a success. "Although final reports on the HelioTrough
collectors' efficiency can only be made once the performance measurements are completed, preliminary results indicate that the HelioTrough technology may represent a significant step forward in collector technology," said Dr. Gladen. "We are one step closer to our goal of making solar thermal technology as cost-effective as fossil-fuel power plants."

One of the objectives for developing the new HelioTrough collector technology was to simplify its design as much as possible to decrease construction costs, while concurrently increasing its precision to maximize its efficiency. The large HelioTrough collectors are constructed in an entirely new geometry. Its simplified design makes it less expensive to build and install and is significantly more efficient than earlier collector designs. Both the mirrors and the absorber pipes of the HelioTrough collectors are larger than current systems and provide for economies of scale and additional savings.
Solar Trust of America and Solar Millennium, LLC currently has multiple solar thermal power plants in advanced stages of permitting and development in California that will utilize the HelioTrough technology. These proposed solar thermal plants are to be located near Ridgecrest, Palen and Blythe, California, and represent approximately 1750 megawatts of electricity generation capacity. The company also has solar power plants in early stages of development in Nevada.

These proposed plants were recently granted "Fast Track" status by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and are currently under regulatory review by BLM and the California Energy Commission (CEC).


solar trust of america’s u.s. project development arm, solar millennium, llc, to employ advanced dry-cooling technology for proposed solar thermal power plants in nevada's amargosa valley

- November 16, 2009


Green Inc.

Solar Developer Abandons Water Plans

By TODD WOODY - November 16, 2009

A solar developer caught in the crossfire of the West's water wars is waving the white flag.

Solar Millennium, a German developer, had proposed using as much as 1.3 billon gallons of water a year to cool a massive solar-power plant complex it wants to build in a desert valley 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

That divided the residents of Amargosa Valley, some of whom feared the solar farm would suck dry their aquifer. Others worried about the impact of the $3 billion project on the endangered pupfish, a tiny blue-gray fish that survives only in a few aquamarine desert pools fed by the valley's aquifer.

Now Solar Millennium says it will instead dry-cool the twin solar farms, which would result in a 90 percent drop in water consumption.

"We trust that this decision to employ dry-cooling will accelerate the approval process and enable us to begin construction and stimulate the local economy by December 2010," Josef Eichhammer, president of Solar Millennium's American operations, said in a statement on Monday.

Water has emerged as a contentious issue as dozens oflarge solar-power plants are proposed for the Southwest desert. Solar Millennium's move is likely to put pressure on other solar developers to follow suit.

Solar thermal plants use the sun's heat to create steam that drives electricity-generating turbines, After the steam is condensed back to water for reuse, it must be cooled. Developers prefer wet cooling, which allows the heat to evaporate, but which requires water to constantly be replenished.

Dry-cooling technology uses fans and heat exchangers to cool the water, but is more expensive and reduces the efficiency of a solar-power plant, Solar Millennium abandoned wet cooling for all its California projects after a local water district declined to supply the 815 million gallons of water one particular solar farm would consume annually.

Not everyone will be celebrating the company's decision to go dry in Armargosa Valley.

Some residents and investors had hoped to sell or lease their water rights to Solar Millennium. Under Nevada's Byzantine water laws, water rights are held separate from a particular piece of property and Amargosa Valley alfalfa farmers - and even the owner of a local casino - expressed interest in doing deals with the company.

But with water off the table, the Amargosa Valley solar projects' odds of obtaining government approval have improved.

That's good news in a county with 15 percent unemployment. Solar Millennium estimates that each solar farm will generate 800 construction jobs and the complex will need a permanent staff of 100 workers.


SOLAR TRUST OF AMERICA NAMES CITIGROUP AND DEUTSCHE BANK AS ADVISORS FOR FINANCING OF BILLION DOLLAR SOLAR THERMAL POWER PLANTS

Cleveland, Ohio, and Berkeley, California - October 21, 2009

Solar Trust of America, LLC, an integrated industrial solar solutions company, today announced that it has engaged Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. as advisors to assist in securing more than $6 billion in financing for construction of multiple solar thermal power plants being developed by Solar Trust of America across the southwestern United States.

Solar Trust of America said the banks will provide financial advisory services for its bid to secure the competitive award of U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees and develop models for debt and equity project financing for its proposed solar thermal power plants in California and Nevada. The company has already applied for certification with the Department of Energy and expects to begin construction in 2010.

According to Solar Trust of America Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Uwe T. Schmidt, "The selection of Citigroup and Deutsche Bank combines the expertise of two leading global financial services firms with our business partners' 75 years of experience in the financing, development, construction and operation of utility-size power plants.  We believe their expertise will contribute to our goal of becoming the solar energy industry leader and help California and Nevada meet their renewable energy mandates and stimulate their economies."

Together with its U.S. development subsidiary, Berkeley-based Solar Millennium, LLC, and global business partners Solar Millennium AG and MAN Ferrostaal AG, Solar Trust of America is actively pursuing the construction and development of multiple solar thermal power plants across the region. The company currently has solar thermal energy power plants in advanced stages of development, among them Ridgecrest, Palen and Blythe in California and in Nevada's Amargosa Valley.

The Solar Trust of America Group has power purchase agreements (PPAs) in place with Southern California Edison (SCE) for development and construction of two 242-megawatt power plants, with an option to include a third 242 megawatt plant, for a total of up to 726 megawatts of capacity. The PPA agreements provide for the purchase of the output by SCE over a 20-year period. These solar thermal power plants are expected to begin operation between 2013 and 2014. Solar Trust of America also has in place a Memorandum of Understanding with Nevada Energy for development and construction of at least one 242-megawatt solar thermal power plant.

Solar Trust of America embraces U.S. federal and state government policies and initiatives to provide significant infrastructure investments, job creation and supplier opportunities in renewable energy through such programs as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program for renewable energy projects.

Schmidt noted that the development, engineering, local procurement and construction of the utility-size plants would provide an economic boost to both states. "Each of these plants features our proven, bankable parabolic trough technology and will include investments of more than $1 billion per plant project," he said. "Each plant is expected to directly employ up to 800 skilled workers during the initial construction phase and create approximately 100 permanent jobs for operations, maintenance and management employees." The plants are also expected to indirectly create thousands of additional jobs as Solar Trust of America procures materials, goods and services for each facility.


SOLAR TRUST OF AMERICA, LLC TARGETS SOUTHWESTERN U.S. FOR DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION OF UTILITY-SIZE SOLAR THERMAL POWER PLANTS

CLEVELAND, OHIO and BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA - August 17, 2009

Solar Trust of America, LLC, a newly formed integrated industrial solar solutions company, today announced that it has entered into contractual arrangements with its business partners Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal to provide the U.S. market with a complete turnkey solution in connection with the development, construction and financing of large-scale concentrated solar power (CSP) plants in the southwestern region of the United States.

The services offered by Solar Trust of America include Project Development; Plant Layout Design; Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC); Supply Chain Management; Plant Operations and Management; ready access to large-scale project financing; and equity participation. Solar Trust of America also announced that it has entered into an agreement to use Solar Millennium AG's proven, in-house Flagsol parabolic trough technology exclusively in North America.

"We believe that we are the only CSP company providing a completely integrated solar solution using proven technology for utility size plants currently generating electricity for the grid," said Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America. "With thousands of fully-funded and completed industrial projects in the combined portfolios of our business partners, we expect to become the industry leader in the development and construction of these solar thermal power plants in the U.S."

The company's business partners include Solar Millennium AG, an international project and technology developer and supplier of parabolic trough collector technology used in powering solar thermal power plants; and MAN Ferrostaal Incorporated, a U.S. subsidiary of MAN Ferrostaal AG, a worldwide provider of industrial services and plant construction and engineering. As part of the launch of its business, Solar Trust announced that Solar Millennium, LLC, of Berkeley, California, a leading U.S. developer of solar thermal power plant technology, has joined the Solar Trust family as a wholly-owned subsidiary and will serve as the company's solar thermal power plant development arm. Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal are both contributing assets and technical expertise to Solar Trust of America and will be shareholders in the new company.

Utilizing the Project Development and Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) experience of its business partners and its exclusive arrangement for Flagsol's parabolic trough technology and services in North America, Solar Trust is ideally positioned to build on the success of Solar Millennium, LLC's June 17, 2009 announcement of the execution of power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison (SCE). The agreements, which are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, call for the development of two, 242 megawatt (MW) power plants, with the option to expand to include a third 242 megawatt plant, for a total of up to 726 megawatts of capacity, and provide for the purchase of the output by SCE over a 20-year period. These solar thermal power plants are expected to begin operation between 2013 and 2014.

Solar Millennium AG is the company responsible for the development of the Andasol 1, 2 and 3 solar thermal power plants constructed in Spain. Andasol 1 and 2, Europe's first commercially operating parabolic trough power plants, are currently supplying electricity to consumers and businesses in Andalusia, Spain with environmentally friendly power that are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 150,000 tons per year, per plant compared to modern coal-fired power plants. Two of these plants feature large-scale thermal storage technology capable of extending power production for up to 7.5 hours per day after the sun sets. MAN Ferrostaal AG is leading the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for Andasol 3, which is currently under construction in Andalusia and scheduled to be connected to the local grid in 2011.

"America's energy future is at a critical crossroad," said Josef Eichhammer, President and Chief Operating Officer of Solar Trust of America. "The challenge is to reduce our carbon footprint and energy dependency from imported fuel. Solar thermal energy is strategically critical to ensuring a sustainable energy future for America. The sun radiates enough energy in 40 minutes to supply the world's entire power needs for a year, we simply have to harness it. We are working diligently with the region's utilities to meet their future demand for renewable energy with proven parabolic trough solar power plants and energy storage solutions. With our new positioning we will leverage the experience of Solar Millennium AG in Spain and strengthen our efforts to achieve our growth objectives in the U.S."

The company currently has multiple solar thermal power plants in advanced stages of development in the southwestern region of the United States. Each plant, if constructed, will feature highly efficient, environmentally friendly solar thermal power plants generating approximately 250 megawatts of electricity each, or enough energy from each plant to power 80,000 homes for a year.

Solar Trust embraces U.S. federal and state government policies and initiatives to provide significant infrastructure investments, job creation and supplier opportunities in renewable energy through such programs as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program for renewable energy projects.

Eichhammer said new government legislation will stimulate significant development of cost-efficient solar power plants across America's Sunbelt region. "Solar energy provides comparatively low long-term generation costs with no additional fuel costs such as coal, oil, gas or uranium. As a result, solar thermal plants deliver clean, carbon-free power and an effective hedge against rising energy costs. Our goal is to secure 20 percent of the solar thermal energy market and set the benchmark for facilities of this size and capacity. We intend to be at the forefront in powering America's future."

Uwe Schmidt emphasized that the development, engineering, local procurement and construction of the utility-size thermal solar power plants should provide an economic boost to the region. "Each of these plants will include investments of more than $1 billion. Each plant is expected to directly employ more than 800 skilled workers during the initial construction phase and create approximately 100 permanent jobs for operations, maintenance and management employees. And, each plant is expected to indirectly create thousands of additional jobs as Solar Trust of America procures materials, goods and services for each facility in the U.S. We expect to generate sustainable revenue throughout the value chain by developing, constructing and operating the plants, while helping the region meet its renewable energy goals and stimulating its economies."

Proven, Bankable Solar Thermal Technology

The solar thermal energy technology employed by Solar Trust of America has been technically viable for more than a quarter century. Today, there are dozens of solar thermal power plants currently in development, under construction or in operation worldwide using similar technology. A solar thermal power plant features large-scale, line-focusing parabolic trough collectors arranged in long rows of "farm-like" arrays that concentrate, capture and transfer the sun's heat energy and feeds that energy into a steam-driven turbine that generates electricity. Members of our engineering team were instrumental in the development and construction of parabolic trough power plants which have been in continuous commercial operation and successfully feeding "peak load" power to the California grid for more than 25 years.

About Solar Trust of America

Solar Trust of America, LLC is an integrated industrial solar solutions company strategically positioned to support the critical need for renewable solar energy generation in the United States. The company's Project Development, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), financial resources and Operational Management expertise ensures the delivery of a fully integrated concentrated solar power solution using exclusively available, commercially viable and proven parabolic trough solar thermal energy technology. For more information about the company visit www.SolarTrustofAmerica.com.

About Solar Millennium

Solar Millennium Inc. is a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Solar Millennium AG, an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main emphasis on solar thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries, the company specializes in parabolic trough power plants, a proven and reliable technology with which the Group has adopted a leading position worldwide. Solar Millennium covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar thermal power plants - from project development and technology to turn-key construction as well as plant operation and investments in power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe's first parabolic trough power plants and realized them with its partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts. The current regional focus is on Spain, the US, China and North Africa. Furthermore, the company has the aim of achieving market readiness for the so-called Blue Tower technology for the generation of product gas that is rich in hydrogen through the reformation of regenerative residual materials, and also for solar chimney power plants in the long run. For more information on Solar Millennium visit www.solarmillennium.com.

About MAN Ferrostaal

MAN Ferrostaal Incorporated is a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of MAN Ferrostaal AG, a global provider of industrial services in plant construction and engineering. As a general contractor in plant construction, the company offers project development, project management and financial planning for turnkey installations, including petrochemical plants, gas and solar power stations, oil and gas installations, biofuels and industrial plants. MAN Ferrostaal operates as an independent sales and service partner in the automotive, printing and packaging machinery, piping and marine construction sectors, employing around 4,400 people in 60 different countries. In 2008, its annual revenue amounted to $2 billion (approx. $1.6 billion Euros). For more information on MAN Ferrostaal AG visit www.manferrostaal.com

 

This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to Solar Trust of America, its subsidiaries and the solar industry. In particular, statements regarding plans, estimates, assumptions, expectations or projections about the future other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, forecasts concerning solar industry growth or other trend projections and statements about Solar Trust of America's strategies, objectives, goals, targets, outlook, and business and financial prospects. These statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

 

Press and Analyst Contact: Bill Keegan, Director of Communications, 312.927.8424, or press@SolarTrustofAmerica.com.


Market Watch logo

German firms join for solar-thermal push in the U.S. Solar Trust of America proposes series of $1 billion power plants

Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch - August 17, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- German firms Solar Millennium AG and MAN Ferrostaal AG on Monday said they formed a joint venture to build up to three utility-scale plants in Southern California at a cost about $1 billion each.

At least one other major project in Nevada is also on the drawing board, with Solar Millennium going from building the large-scale Andasol solar project in Spain to the United States, eyeing a new $2.3 billion tax credit from the Obama administration for renewable-energy equipment manufacturers.

Pending approvals from state-utility regulators and others, Solar Trust of America LLC hopes to win financing to build plants that produce about 242 megawatts each -- enough power for 80,000 homes, through parabolic-trough technology that converts heat from the sun into steam to drive power generators.

Solar Millennium will own 70% and MAN Ferrostaal's U.S. subsidiary, MAN Ferrostaal Inc. of Cleveland, will own 30% of the new venture, called Solar Trust of America LLC.

Solar Trust of America obtained power-purchase agreements for up to 726 megawatts with Southern California Edison from Solar Millennium LLC of Berkeley, Calif., the U.S.-based arm of Solar Millennium AG headed up by Rainer Aringhoff.

The deal comes on the heels of Friday's launch of a tax-credit program from the U.S. Energy and Treasury departments and funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Billed as the latest in the government's effort to create "green" jobs and encourage energy independence, the new program will provide tax credits to manufacturers who produce clean-energy equipment.

In the case of Solar Trust of America, the three plants now in the works would employ about 800 workers each.

"We expect to generate sustainable revenue throughout the value chain by developing, constructing and operating the plants, while helping the region meet its renewable-energy goals and stimulating its economies," Solar Trust of America said in a statement.

Solar Millennium on June 17 announced the execution of power-purchase agreements with Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International (EIX, US). The 20-year agreements are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. These solar-thermal power plants are expected to begin operation between 2013 and 2014.

Solar Millennium's solar-thermal plants channel daytime energy into a tank filled with molten nitrate-based salt, which releases heat during the night. Over the summer months, the plants generate electricity 24 hours a day.

MAN Ferrostaal builds a variety of solar-power plants and other projects, including desalination facilities.

Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal form a joint venture to build up to three utility-scale plants in Southern California at a cost about $1 billion each.


Reuters logo

German firms create new U.S. solar thermal company

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Richard Chang - August 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Aug 17 (Reuters) - German solar thermal company Solar Millennium AG (S2MG.DE) and plant builder MAN Ferrostaal AG have joined forces to capture a chunk of the growing U.S. market for solar thermal power.

The two companies said on Monday they have created a new company, Solar Trust of America LLC, which was formed through the acquisition by Solar Millennium and MAN Ferrostaal of Solar Millennium's U.S. arm. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Solar Trust Chief Executive Uwe Schmidt said the company aims to have 20 percent of the U.S. market for solar thermal energy, also known as concentrating solar power, or CSP.

Unlike photovoltaic solar panels, which use the sunlight to create electricity, CSP plants use the sun's heat to create steam that turns a turbine to generate power.

Solar Trust's technology, which uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate the sun's heat, has already been deployed at solar power plants in southern Spain.

In an interview, Schmidt said he expects Solar Trust to be a major player in the U.S. market because its technology has been proven over 25 years and therefore will have an easier time attracting financing.

"There is a clear sense of urgency. There are many good companies out there and a lot of exciting ideas and new technologies that people are looking at developing," Schmidt said. "We see these, but today in the timeframe of the Obama administration to have shovels in the ground in 2010 ... the only real technology we see today that is bankable is the parabolic trough technology."

Solar thermal plants are capable of producing more power than their photovoltaic counterparts, and Solar Trust said it aims to build plants that are capable of generating 242 megawatts of power and up. One 242 MW plant costs about $1.2 billion to build, Schmidt said.

Through its purchase of Solar Millennium LLC, Solar Trust acquired the company's agreement to build two plants for California utility Southern California Edison (EIX.N) as well as a memorandum of understanding with NV Energy Inc (NVE.N) to build a power plant in Nevada.

The company has five more plants in the works in the southwestern United States, Schmidt said.


Dow Jones Newswire logo

German Firms Join For Solar-Thermal Push In US

By Steve Gelsi - August 17, 2009

German firms Solar Millennium AG (S2M.XE) and MAN Ferrostaal AG on Monday said they formed a joint venture to build up to three utility-scale plants in Southern California at a cost about $1 billion each.

At least one other major project in Nevada is also on the drawing board, with Solar Millennium going from building the large-scale Andasol solar project in Spain to the United States, eyeing a new $2.3 billion tax credit from the Obama administration for renewable-energy equipment manufacturers.

Pending approvals from state-utility regulators and others, Solar Trust of America LLC hopes to win financing to build plants that produce about 242 megawatts each -- enough power for 80,000 homes, through parabolic-trough technology that converts heat from the sun into steam to drive power generators.

Solar Millennium will own 70% and MAN Ferrostaal's U.S. subsidiary, MAN Ferrostaal Inc. of Cleveland, will own 30% of the new venture, called Solar Trust of America LLC.
Solar Trust of America obtained power-purchase agreements for up to 726 megawatts with Southern California Edison from Solar Millennium LLC of Berkeley, Calif., the U.S.-based arm of Solar Millennium AG headed up by Rainer Aringhoff.

The deal comes on the heels of Friday's launch of a tax-credit program from the U.S. Energy and Treasury departments and funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Billed as the latest in the government's effort to create "green" jobs and encourage energy independence, the new program will provide tax credits to manufacturers who produce clean-energy equipment.

In the case of Solar Trust of America, the three plants now in the works would employ about 800 workers each.

"We expect to generate sustainable revenue throughout the value chain by developing, constructing and operating the plants, while helping the region meet its renewable-energy goals and stimulating its economies," Solar Trust of America said in a statement.

Solar Millennium on June 17 announced the execution of power-purchase agreements with Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International (EIX). The 20-year agreements are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. These solar-thermal power plants are expected to begin operation between 2013 and 2014.

Solar Millennium's solar-thermal plants channel daytime energy into a tank filled with molten nitrate-based salt, which releases heat during the night. Over the summer months, the plants generate electricity 24 hours a day.

MAN Ferrostaal builds a variety of solar-power plants and other projects, including desalination facilities.


Renewable Energy World.com logo

MAN Ferrostaal and Solar Millennium in US Launch

- August 17, 2009

"The expansion of the previous activities around power plant construction opens up new sales potential," Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of STA

Essen, Germany [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] -The two companies say the creation of the venture, Solar Trust of America LLC (STA), is in response to the marked increase in demand for solar thermal power generation in the country.

Through affiliated companies, Solar Millennium will have a majority share in the new company, while a minority share will be owned by MAN Ferrostaal Inc., Cleveland (Ohio), a subsidiary of MAN Ferrostaal AG. Solar Millennium will also integrate the American project development subsidiary Solar Millennium LLC, based in Berkeley, California, as a future subsidiary of STA.

Solar Millennium LLC says it already has long-term power purchase contracts for up to three parabolic trough power plants in California, each of which will generate just under 250 MW as well as other projects under development and it says that STA will intensify the development of projects in the southwestern states of the USA.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of STA commented: "The expansion of the previous activities around power plant construction opens up new sales potential."


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