US: DOE supports 733 MW of rooftop installation

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The Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday announced providing conditional loan guarantees for the scheme, to the tune of $1.4 billion. It will amount to the largest rooftop installation in the country with a total installed capacity nearly equaling the entire amount of photovoltaics installed nationally in 2010.

The Project Amp loan guarantees marks a significant milestone as it is the first time the DOE will support decentralized installations, rather than large power plants. In a little more than a week, the DOE has provided conditional guarantees for various solar projects including a wafer manufacturing plant and three large concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic plants. The three plants have a cumulative installed capacity of 650 megawatts (MW).

This most recent grant recipient is a scheme that will see photovoltaic panels installed on warehouses, owned by Prologis, in 28 states and the District of Colombia. While $1.4 billion of debt will finance the project, $1.2 billion will be invested by the private sector, over the next four years.

Both NRG Energy and Prologis will co-own the project. Bank of America Merill Lynch will provide the loan, which will be guaranteed by DOE. The loan guarantees means that the government will pay back part of the loan if the borrowers are unable to do so and are part of the Obama administration’s stimulus spending packages.

NRG Energy has previously been the recipient of a DOE loan guarantee for their Ivanpah 392 MW solar thermal project in California’s Mojave Desert.

Various utility companies will purchase the power produced by Project Amp and Southern California Edison has agreed to buy power from phase one of the project. The three companies are working to finalize the financing documentation for the project. One of the installations under phase one will be a 15.4MW rooftop array in Southern California that will begin construction before October this year.

Southern California Edison has also agreed to purchase almost 500 MW of power from two massive CSP plants which have also received DOE loan guarantees. A ground breaking ceremony was held a the site, in Blythe California, only days ago.

In a statement announcing the Project Amp loan guarantee said that the project will assist in moving towards the goal grid parity in America. "This unprecedented solar project will not only produce clean, renewable energy to power the grid in states across the country, but it will help us meet the SunShot goal of achieving cost competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade," said Secretary Chu.

Prologis’ Drew Torbin concurred, in a joint statement from the three companies announcing Project Amp. "This project will add significant scale to the distributed solar market and provides economic and environmental benefit to our shareholders and customers."

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