Concentrated solar power project wins $90mn loan guarantee

The concentrated solar energy facility will use Amonix panels made from concentrating optics and multi-junction solar cell panels that are controlled by a dual-axis tracking system. The Public Service Co. of Colorado will buy the power generated under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu just made the $90.6 million loan guarantee to Cogentrix official this morning for the construction of the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, a 30-megawatt high concentration solar photovoltaic (HCPV) project in south-central Colorado. That 30 megawatts would hold the title as the largest CPV project in the world when it is completed at its target of mid-2012.

Cogentrix, a subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group, estimates that the project will create about 100 construction jobs and 10 operations jobs. The project will source over 80 percent of its components from the U.S. Most of Cogentrix’ previous projects have been for fossil fuel plants.

Cogentrix plans to use the mammoth concentrating panels from CPV veteran Amonix, the Kleiner Perkins- and Westly Group-backed solar hardware supplier. Ben Kortlang, the KPCB partner on the Amonix board of directors, spent eight years at Goldman Sachs prior to his Kleiner Perkins role and investment in Amonix.

Amonix just unveiled a partnership with the University of Arizona’s Solar Zone and Tucson Electric Power for a 2-megawatt (AC) power plant powered by 36 CPV solar power systems.

The Alamosa plant will sell its electricity output to Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.

This is the first loan guarantee for a CPV project — although Soitec, selected by Tenaska Solar Ventures for an even larger 150-megawatt solar project for San Diego Gas & Electric, is also awaiting a decision on a DOE loan guarantee.