The California Energy Commission has about a dozen large-scale solar thermal energy projects seeking approval before the end of 2010. Many companies are in a scramble to get approval for their solar projects started this year in order to take advantage of a Treasury grant program and the Department of Energy’s renewable-energy loan-guarantee program, both of which are both expire at the end of 2010.

The California Energy Commission has already approved plans for a 250-megawatt solar thermal farm near the Mojave Desert. The Beacon Solar Energy thermal solar plant would be built at the western edge of the Mojave Desert, near the town of Mojave. The Beacon project is expected to be the first solar thermal project to be built in the state in 20 years

The Commission has also recommended approval of the Blythe Solar Power Project in southeast California which still needs final Environmental Impact Statement approval. When fully operational, the solar thermal power plant would the largest solar plant in the world with the capacity to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity. When completed, the Blythe plant would nearly double the current 585 megawatts of installed commercial-scale solar generation nationwide in the U.S.

The Federal Bureau of Land Management has issued the final environmental impact statement which is open for public comment until September 18.

In other renewable energy projects, Terra-Gen Power has announced that it has secured $us1.2 billion in financing to complete what could be the largest wind energy project in the U.S. The 3,000-megawatt Alta Wind Energy Center would actually be a series of several massive wind farms located near Tehachapi, California about 185 kilometres north of Los Angeles. Construction of the first phase of the project has already begun.