DOE Offers $2.1 Billion Conditional Commitment Loan Guarantee to Support California Solar Thermal Power Plant

Washington D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–April 18, 2011.  U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to support Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe Solar Power Project, sponsored by Solar Trust of America, LLC.  The concentrating solar thermal power plant includes two units comprising a combined 484 megawatt (MW) generating capacity, an eight-mile transmission line and associated infrastructure.  The project will be built adjacent to the City of Blythe in Riverside County, California and is expected to create over 1,000 construction jobs and approximately 80 operations jobs.  The plant is estimated to avoid over 710,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 123,000 vehicles.

“Loan guarantees play an important role in facilitating the development and deployment of innovative technologies at massive scope and scale,” said Secretary Chu.  “Continued investments like this project make solar power more efficient and cost competitive while creating thousands of jobs and strengthening the economy.”

“California is the national leader in clean energy, and our great state is poised to become the world leader in renewable energy generation,” said Governor Jerry Brown.  “I commend President Obama and Secretary Chu for making another major investment in California.”

“This clean energy project will create more than 1,000 jobs and strengthen the economy of Riverside County. Investments like this one are critical to reducing America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, protecting our children from pollution and creating clean energy jobs here in California,” said Senator Barbara Boxer.

Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe project represent the first phase of a larger project that, when completed, will generate 1,000 MW of solar power using parabolic trough technology.  Units 1 and 2 will include HelioTroughT collectors, which feature a larger yet simplified design, making them less expensive to build and install, and more efficient than earlier trough technology.  The project will be the first concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic trough plant to use an air-cooled condenser unit, which will decrease water use by nearly 90 percent compared with a water-cooled CSP facility.  The project will sell all of its electricity output to Southern California Edison and will deliver power into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power grid.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $21 billion to support 22 clean energy projects across 14 states.  The program’s 11 generation projects will produce nearly 25 million megawatt-hours annually, enough to power over two million homes.  DOE is supporting robust projects across a variety of energy sectors, including wind, geothermal, solar, biofuels and nuclear.  Including today’s announcement, DOE has committed financing for four of the world’s largest solar projects, two geothermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm and the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in three decades.  For more information, please visit the Loan Programs Office.

Source: energy.gov