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Developer of 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Project Files for Chapter 11

Hours after solar cell manufacturer Q-Cells announced it was filing for bankruptcy, the solar industry received another helping of bad news.

This time, it was Solar Trust of America, a 70-percent owned subsidiary of Germany’s already-bankrupt Solar Millennium, that announced it would be seeking court protection. For the American solar industry, that means that the 1,000-megawatt Blythe Solar Power Project in Blythe, Calif., is in even deeper trouble as it struggles to get off the ground.

Originally conceived as a concentrating solar power (CSP) development of unrivaled scale, the Blythe project showed signs of sputtering in August when it announced that the first 500 MW would switch to photovoltaics because the steep drop in panel prices had made PV far easier of an investment.

According to published reports, Solar Trust of America listed in its bankruptcy filing assets of $1 million to $10 million, and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million.

The question now is will anyone step in to take over what was billed as the world’s largest solar project. In an interview with Reuters News Service, Blythe City Manager David Lane sounded optimistic.

"We have been working with Solar Trust of America for a couple of years in getting this project going," he said. "Although the project is not in the city limits, we are the only city within 100 miles. My sense is that with the large investment in what was to have been the world's largest solar power plant, someone somewhere will buy it and build it.”

According to the company’s website, Solar Trust of America has 2,000 MW of projects in advanced stages of permitting in California and Nevada.

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