Construction begins on 2.7GW Westlands solar park in California

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Real estate and infrastructure company CIM Group has announced the start of construction on the massive 2.7GW Westlands solar park in California.

Once fully operational, the solar park is expected to deliver clean energy to more than 1,200,000 homes in the state.

To be located on more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties, the Westlands solar park will be built in phases.

The first phase of the solar park will include Aquamarine, a 250MW solar photovoltaic project, which has obtained all entitlement and conditional use approvals.

Valley Clean Energy Alliance has signed a power purchase agreement with CIM to purchase a 50MW capacity from the solar project.

It is a locally governed electricity provider for the California cities of Davis and Woodland and unincorporated portions of Yolo County.

The electricity provider has selected Aquamarine based on certain criteria that include minimize impacts on prime farmland, environmentally protected species, and habitat.

For the Westlands solar park, CIM is repurposing selenium-contaminated and drainage-impaired farmland for the development of clean energy.

The infrastructure developer claims to have garnered strong support from environmental communities including the Sierra Club, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity for the project.

The company stated: “CIM’s clean energy projects will provide solutions to multiple policy objectives for the state of California’s renewable energy mandate including greenhouse gas reduction and carbon-free energy.

“Additionally, it is expected that WSP will contribute to economic development in Central Valley communities by diversifying the region beyond agriculture and create a substantial number of clean energy jobs over the development of the entire project.”

Earlier, CIM had installed a 2MW pilot project at Westlands solar park in mid-2016 with the Anaheim Public Utility as the off-taker.

The solar park is said to be one of the few renewable energy zones identified as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) through the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) process.