Solar Trust America is a joint venture between German firms Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal. The group already started preliminary construction of the project last fall.

On the one hand, there’s been solar contracts revoked, companies sold, and money lost — on the other hand there’s been a bunch of companies that have finally gotten state and federal permits to build plants, and one company in particular that is planning an IPO (duh, BrightSource). Here’s our update on utility scale solar thermal that are moving forward in the deserts of the Southwest.

1). BrightSource’s Ivanpah: The pioneer of the next-gen solar farms that are being built in the Mojave is BrightSource’s Ivanpah project. Ivanpah was one of the first plants to get state and federal permits, and was one of the few to receive a federal Department of Energy loan guarantee. The 392 MW plant went under construction in October and is supposed to be completed by 2013, and will sell solar power to Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Ivanpah has $598 million of commitments for Ivanpah, including $300 million from NRG Solar, $168 million from Google and $130 million from BrightSource. BrightSource is also building Ivanpah with a $1.6 billion loan guarantee, and plans to raise $250 million in an IPO.

The project is made up of three power plants and will be built in three phases. Phase 1 is under development now, while phases 2 and 3 are now suspended because of the discovery of more desert tortoises than previously expected. The technology used is next-generation solar power tower technology, that places mirrors around a centralized tower.

2). Solana: Over in Arizona, one of the most well-known solar thermal projects is Solana, which is a 280 MW solar farm being built by the solar arm of Spanish construction and engineering firm Abengoa, Abengoa Solar. The Department of Energy awarded a $1.45 billion guarantee to Abengoa Solar to build Solana and Arizona utility APS will buy the power from the project.

Fred Morse, U.S. senior adviser to Abengoa Solar, told last year (just months before the guarantee was announced) that Abengoa had “completed the permitting,” “gotten the transmission link ready,” and had just started “on financing the project.” Solana, which is supposed to be ready in 2013, is meant to create 1,600 jobs in Arizona, and over 70 percent of the solar components are estimated to be made in the U.S. Abengoa will be using the more traditional solar thermal trough technology for Solana.

3). Beacon Solar Energy Project: Beacon Solar, a subsidiary of Florida power company NextEra Energy, is building the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project on 2,012-acres in Kern County, Calif. NextEra is using more traditional solar trough technology, which it has already used for one of its older solar projects in the Mojave. The proposed grid connection will occur at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Barren Ridge Substation.

Originally Beacon Solar was supposed to start commercial operation of the project by the third quarter of 2011, but now it looks like that will happen 30 months after it received the CEC approval. The project was approved by the California Energy Commission in November of 2010, so don’t expect this project to produce power until 2013.

4). Genesis Solar: Another Next-Era Energy project. The California Energy Commission approved the 250 MW Genesis Solar Energy project in September 2010, which will be built by Genesis Solar, a subsidiary of Next-Era. Genesis will be built in Riverside County, Calif., which is 25 miles west of the city of Blythe, Calif., on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The BLM approved the project late last year.

5). Blythe Solar Power Project: The Blythe Solar Power Project, to be built by Solar Trust of America, is set to be the largest solar project in the world when built, with four solar thermal plants of 250 MW each, delivering 1 GW collectively. The DOE offered the largest loan guarantee for a clean power project to date — a whopping $2.1 billion — to build the  first two sections of Blythe. Southern California Edison will buy 484 MW of the solar power.

Solar Trust America is a joint venture between German firms Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal. The group already started preliminary construction of the project last fall by putting in an access road and some water supply infrastructure and the company plans to start building the project in earnest in late spring or early summer. The first half of the solar farm will cost an estimated $2.8 billion, and Solar Trust expects to start building the second half of the power plant within two years. Solar Trust plans to use its trough collectors for the solar farm and the power plant will reside on 9,400 acres in Riverside County and cost more than $5 billion.