Construction has begun on a $US1 billion ($A1.08 billion) solar power generating station in the Mojave Desert that officials say will produce enough electricity to power about 80,000 California homes when it is completed in 2016.

The 250-megawatt project, dubbed Silver State South, will capture solar energy with panels spread across almost 4 square miles (10 square kilometres) of federal land south of Las Vegas, according to a fact sheet obtained Friday from a First Solar Inc. representative. Executives with Arizona-based First Solar and Florida-based NextEra…