Cogentrix concentrating solar power plant in Colorado gets $91M fed loan guarantee

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday it has finalized a $90.6 million loan guarantee to Charlotte, N.C.-based Cogentrix in support of its solar generating project in Alamosa.

The government said the Alamosa Solar Generating Project will be, when completed during the second quarter of 2012, the highest concentration photovoltaic energy generation facility in the world.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said it will also be the world’s largest of its kind. It will support up to 100 construction jobs during buildout.

The 30-megawatt facility will consist of concentrating optics and solar cell panels that are controlled by a tracking system that rotates and tilts the cells toward the sun throughout the day.

Cogentrix estimates its solar cells are nearly 40 percent efficient, about double that of more traditional PV panels.

The facility is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 6,500 homes, according to the Department of Energy.

Xcel’s Public Service Co. of Colorado will buy the power generated by the solar facility for the next 20 years.

The loan guarantee is the fourth the Department of Energy has given since 2010 to a Colorado project or company with a presence in the state.

The other three were:

Longmont-based Abound Solar, which received a $400 million guarantee to expand its facilities in Colorado and build a plant in Indiana.

SolarCity, which got $275 million in guarantees for an expansion of residential rooftop solar power. The California-based company has two offices in Colorado.

Denver-based Abengoa Solar, which received a commitment for $1.45 billion for an Arizona concentrating solar thermal power project. The company is part of Abengoa SA of Spain.