West Coast solar power could get a major boost if the California Energy Commission approves as many as six of 13 proposed utility-scale solar projects in Southern California’s Mojave Desert by year-end. Photo: Courtesy Brightsource Energy Mirror arrays collect Southern California sunshine and convert water to steam to drive generators. Other systems under consideration use thin-film compounds and waterless thermal troughs. At a series of meetings in October and November, the CEC will consider authorizing construction for some of the largest solar installations since 354 MW went online in the 1990s. An additional 3,500 MW of capacity—an estimated $18 billion
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.