US: DOE provides loan guarantees for 650 MW of solar projects

16. June 2011 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Markets & Trends | By:  Jonathan Gifford

In the past two days, three large scale photovoltaic and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects have been given conditional loan guarantee approval by the Department of Energy (DOE) under its loan guarantee program, known as Section 1705. The program closes in September.

Secretary Chu speaking at an energy summit.

Secretary Chu said the investments will build expertise and bring photovoltaic and CSP prices down. Image: Flickr/Department of Energy.

The three projects total loan guarantees of over $2 billion and will generate 150 megawatts (MW) of electricity using photovoltaic solar modules and 500 MW using concentrating solar power.

Sempre Generation is the company behind the photovoltaic project that is known as Mesquite Solar 1. It has received a conditional $359.1 million loan guarantee. The solar plant will be located in Arizona, approximately 45 miles west of Phoenix. The project will be one of the first large installations to use, "transformerless and liquid cooled inverter technology, which allows for significant improvements in the energy output," the department said in a statement.

Abengoa Solar Inc. is the recipient of a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for its Mojave Solar Project, worth 250 MW. The installation uses CSP technology and will signify the first utility-scale deployment of Abengoa’s latest Solar Collector Assembly, which the company claims to be a significant improvement over the prior generation of parabolic trough technology. The plant will be located in San Bernadino Country, California.

NextEra Energy Resources is the second CSP installation project sponsor and it will receive $681.6 million in loan guarantees. Its project, also worth 250 MW, will be located in California on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, in Riverside County. The project is known as the Genesis Solar Project.

"By investing in the commercial-scale deployment of solar technologies, we can create greater efficiencies that will lower the cost of solar power while creating jobs and increasingly our global competitiveness in this key industry," said Secretary Chu in a statement announcing the two CSP installations.

There is a strong focus on job creation in the announcements of all three installations and the three companies estimate that construction will create over 2,000 jobs. To date, the loan guarantee program has committed over $10 billion to solar generation projects, including four of the world’s largest solar projects.

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