USD$1.85 billion boost for US solar industry

Following a conditional commitment for a USD$1.45 billion loan guarantee, Abengoa Solar is set to build a USD$2 billion large-scale solar plant near Gila Bend, Arizona. It has been said that at full capacity, the plant will generate 280 megawatts (MW) of power, which is enough to power more than 70,000 homes. Up to 1,600 jobs are expected to be created during the plant’s construction, with 85 permanent jobs once it is operational.

It was also said that 70 percent of the components and products used in the construction will be manufactured in the U.S., whilst two assembly factories will be constructed on the Solana site. As a result of Solana’s large need for mirrors (over 900,000), a new mirror manufacturing facility will be sited just outside of the Phoenix area, contributing to up to another 150 jobs. Solana will additionally require approximately 97,000 receivers, which will be sourced from Schott Solar’s Albuquerque, New Mexico plant.

"After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America. In the short term, construction will create approximately 1,600 jobs in Arizona. What’s more, over 70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain. Once completed, this plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the U.S. to actually store the energy it generates for later use – even at night. And it will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 70,000 homes," commented President Barack Obama.

The second conditional commitment was offered to Abound Solar Manufacturing for a USD$400 million loan guarantee to build two plants to manufacture state-of-the-art thin film solar panels. Over 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent manufacturing and technical jobs will be created. It has been said that a Colorado plant is already underway, and an Indiana plant will be built in what’s now an empty Chrysler factory. When fully operational, these plants will "produce millions of solar panels each year". A statement released by the White House said that by 2013 annual production of panels will be able to support the production of 840 MW of new solar power each year.

The statement added: "The Recovery Act alone is investing over USD$90 billion in clean energy, which could produce as much as USD$150 billion in clean energy projects. These investments are helping create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil, enhance national security, and protect the environment. Ultimately, the investments could help transform the United States into a global clean energy leader.

"In the first quarter of 2010 alone, Recovery Act clean energy investments directly created more than 80,000 clean energy jobs. These investments supported an additional 20,000 jobs throughout the economy. By 2012, these investments are projected to have created more than 700,000 clean energy jobs."