guarantees to support what will be the world’s biggest solar power plant, the
government’s largest commitment to date to solar energy.The aid will support construction of the first two units of Solar Trust of
America’s 1,000 megawatt solar thermal Blythe Solar Power Project, the DOE
said yesterday. Solar Trust of America is a joint venture between German
companies Solar Millennium and Ferrostaal.”For the first time in mankind’s history, a solar power facility will be
built at a scale and output capacity equal to the very largest coal-fired and
nuclear power plants operating in the world today,” Solar Trust of America Chief
Executive Uwe Schmidt said on a conference call with reporters.
(Credit: California Energy
The first two units of the project near Blythe, Calif., will be capable of
producing 484 MW of electricity using solar thermal trough technology. The
project will create over 1,000 construction jobs and 80 operations jobs and will
avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those generated by about 123,000
Solar Millennium’s technology makes electricity by using trough-shaped
mirrors to heat a fluid that generates steam that turns a turbine. The Blythe
project’s total price tag is estimated at north of $6 billion, with the first
phase costing about $2.8 billion.
The announcement came a week after the federal program to support clean
energy technologies escaped the ax in the final U.S. budget agreement for the
current fiscal year.
Since then, the Energy Department has announced commitments to help fund two
other large solar projects in California. The government finalized on April 11 a
$1.6 billion loan guarantee for BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar thermal
project, and a day later announced a conditional commitment for a $1.19 billion
loan guarantee for a SunPower 250 MW photovoltaic power plant.
California Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a law that sets the state’s
renewable energy target at one-third of total electricity generation by 2020.
The DOE loan guarantee program for renewable energy has provided funding for
projects whose new technologies have had difficulty securing financing from
traditional lending sources. Since the financial crisis, lenders have been less
willing to take on the risk of pouring money into unproven technologies.
“Today we are in a global race to develop and deploy clean energy
technologies,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on a conference call with
reporters to announce the loan commitment. “When we rev up the great American
innovation machine, we can outcompete any other nation.”
Story Copyright (c) 2011 Reuters Limited. All rights