SolarWorld Breaks Ground on 25-MW Desert Star Solar Projects in California

Mojave systems showcase SolarWorld’s project, product capabilities

SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years, announced today that it has begun construction of its 25-megawatt (DC) Desert Star Solar Projects in California’s Mojave Desert. The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) division of SolarWorld, which owns the land and projects near Twentynine Palms, Calif., is overseeing all phases of the projects, including design, engineering, procurement, permitting and construction. Once completed later this year, Desert Star will rank among California’s largest operating crystalline-silicon solar installations.

“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,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas, the company’s commercial arm, based in Camarillo, Calif. “The projects spotlight the best of American solar ingenuity, combining our U.S.-manufactured solar panels and single-axis tracker with some of the country’s brightest solar engineering and construction talent.”

Situated on two land parcels totaling 164 acres between the communities of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree, Desert Star will feed an estimated 58,312 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually into the Southern California Edison electrical grid, enough to power 9,000 typical American homes each year. The projects are expected to eliminate about 31,000 tons of carbon emissions a year, the equivalent of taking about 61,000 vehicles off the road for their life spans.

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 Suntrac tracker can boost a system’s electricity production by up to 21 percent, compared with fixed ground-mount racking.

SolarWorld began acquiring and designing the Desert Star Solar Projects this past spring. 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 $5.2 million into the local economy during construction.

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