The Oberon Solar and Storage project, also known as the Oberon Renewable Energy project, is constructed, operated and maintained by clean energy company Intersect Power.
The project comprises a solar power plant of 500MW (679MW of peak generating capacity) and a 250MW (equivalent to 1GWh) battery storage facility. It generates enough power to supply 207,000 homes a year.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the construction of the project in July 2022, while commercial operations commenced in November 2023.
It is the first of three planned renewable energy projects to be operational under BLM’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which is focussed on developing renewable energy in 10.8 million acres of public land in the desert regions of seven California counties.
The project is located east of Desert Centre in eastern Riverside County, California, on BLM-administered land. It is spread over 5,000 acres, of which the infrastructure covers 2,600 acres.
The project features a solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generating station, a battery energy storage system (BESS), an electrical substation, a generation intertie (gen-tie) line and associated access roads.
It also includes multiple solar array fields that employ single-axis solar PV trackers with each row of panels approximately 350ft along a north/south axis. The supporting structures for the PV modules consist of steel piles driven into the soil using pneumatic techniques. The piles are spaced approximately 10ft apart, with a height of 4ft or higher.
Each module block includes a 40ft x 25ft inverter equipment area and an inverter-transformer station. Each inverter-transformer station contains up to six inverters, a transformer, a battery enclosure and an 8ft to 11ft high switchboard.
Underground cables transport the direct current (DC) from the panels via combiner boxes to inverters. The DC power is converted into alternating current (AC). The substation yard collects and consolidates the cables from the PV collector system and steps up the voltage from 34.5kV to 500kV.
Other associated infrastructure includes an operation and maintenance building, supervisory control and data acquisition system and telecommunications facilities, including a meteorological data collection system.
Grid connection was achieved through an interconnection to Southern California Edison’s existing 500kV Red Bluff Substation via a 500kV gen-tie line.
Power purchase agreements
Power generated from the project, along with the renewable energy credits and resource adequacy, is purchased by Ava Community Energy (formerly East Bay Community Energy), Calpine Energy Solutions, Constellation, Microsoft and San Diego Community Power.
Intersect Power closed a $2.6bn financing commitment in November 2021 through eight separate transactions for the construction and operation of a six-project portfolio, which includes the Oberon Solar and Storage project.
A new financing commitment of $2.4bn was closed in September 2022. Previously announced commitment amounting to $678m was also allocated for the construction and operation of four solar energy projects totalling approximately 1.5GW of PV solar power along with 1.0GWh BESS.
First Solar, a PV solar solutions supplier, supplied the solar PV modules for the solar plant.
Nextracker, a leading provider of intelligent, integrated solar tracker and software solutions, supplied the smart solar trackers for the project.
The BESS was constructed using batteries from energy company Tesla’s battery facility in Lathrop, California.