President Barack Obama announced nearly $2 billion in government loan guarantees for two solar projects, placing bets on both solar thermal and photovoltaic technologies.
The two projects will directly create 5,000 jobs, the president said in his weekly radio address, though many of those will be temporary construction jobs.
The guarantees are funded by last year’s economic stimulus package and represent the 12th and 13th such guarantees provided by the Department of Energy, bringing the total DOE loans for clean energy to $14.8 billion, supporting a total expenditure of $22.4 billion in new projects.
The new awards consist of $1.45 billion to the Solana generating facility in Arizona, which will be the largest solar power facility in the world when completed, and $400 million to Abound Solar Energy for construction of thin solar panels.
The Solana plant, which will generate 280 megawatts of electricity – enough go power 70,000 homes – will use solar thermal technology developed by Albengoa Solar of Spain. Total investment will be $2 billion.
This technology uses mirrors to concentrate heat from the sun, which is carried by a special fluid and used to power generators. The Solana facility will also for the first time use molten salt to store electricity for up to six hours, enabling it to operate when the sky is overcast or at night.
Construction on the Solana plant, located about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, is scheduled to begin this fall and to be completed in 2013. Construction will create about 1,600 jobs, but permanent employment at the site will be only 85. Some 70 percent of the equipment in the plant – including mirrors, receiver tubes and heat transfer fluid – will also be manufactured in the U.S.
The loan guarantee for Abound Solar will help fund two plants for the manufacture of state-of-the-art thin-film solar panels, in Colorado and Indiana. This will be the first commercial production of this technology for photovoltaic panels, which collect heat to generate electricity.
Construction of the two plants will create 2,000 jobs, the White House said, and operation will create 1,600 permanent jobs. When the new plants reach full capacity in 2013, annual production of panels will be sufficient to create 840 MW of solar power capacity, enough to power more 200,000 homes.
By. Darrell Delamaide for OilPrice.com