Solar Plant_CA_Genesis Solar_PG&E_NextEra Energy Resources, LLC_250mw

Giant California solar thermal plant raises $935m

Department of Energy finalises $852m loan guarantee for 250MW Genesis Solar project, with additional funds from private industry

North America’s largest wind and solar energy supplier has raised $935m to fund the construction of a 250MW solar thermal plant in the California desert.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) finalised an $852m loan guarantee last week for NextEra Energy Resources‘ Genesis Solar project, which will increase the nation’s concentrating solar power capacity by about 50 per cent.

Around $702m of the funding is project bonds, $150m is a project term loan, and the remaining $83m comes from a letter of credit facility.

“This financing marks a significant milestone in the development of the Genesis project,” said Armando Pimentel, executive vice president and chief financial officer of NextEra Energy, the parent of NextEra Energy Resources. “We are pleased with both the strong investor reception for this financing, which we view as a validation of our solar development efforts, and the receipt of a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.”

The facility in Riverside County should produce enough electricity to power more than 48,000 homes and avoid more than 320,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the DoE.

The news came on the same day as figures published (PDF) by the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA) showed that US solar manufacturers exported $5.6bn worth of products over 2010, achieving a positive net flow of $1.9bn to the country.

Photovoltaic components accounted for more than 99 per cent of the year’s exports, with China, Germany and Japan the top destinations. The US was a net exporter to China by about $240m.

The positive figures contrast with last week’s news that one of the country’s largest solar manufacturers, Evergreen Solar, filed for bankruptcy, saying it could no longer compete with cheaper Chinese rivals.

But Evergreen’s struggles failed to blemish the SEIA’s positive view of the sector.

“The US solar energy market continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and chief executive. “But to maintain our competitive advantage, we need innovative, proactive solutions from policymakers to match the investments being provided overseas to grow robust solar supply chains.”

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