Concentrated solar thermal power receives federal loan

When complete, the concentrated solar thermal generation project, owned by Abengoa Solar, will increase the nation’s currently installed concentrating solar power capacity by approximately 50 percent, according to DOE. Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE: PCG) signed a 25-year power purchase agreement for the output from the project.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the Energy Department finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar LLC for the development of the Mojave Solar Project (MSP). When complete, the 250MW solar generation project located in San Bernardino County, California will increase the nation’s currently installed concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity by approximately 50 percent. Abengoa Solar Inc., the project sponsor, estimates it will fund more than 900 construction and permanent operations jobs.

“Investments in solar generation facilities like the Mojave Solar Project are critical to our effort to create good, clean energy jobs in America and compete with countries like China in the global clean energy race,” said Secretary Chu. “This project will supply local utilities with energy, help drive down the cost of solar power, and fund more than 900 American jobs, all at minimal risk to the taxpayer.”

MSP will be the nation’s first utility-scale deployment of Abengoa’s latest Solar Collector Assembly (SCA), a significant improvement over the prior generation of solar concentrating technology installed in the United States in the 1980s and 90s. The SCA, which was originally developed in connection with an award from the Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has a number of advanced features, including a lighter, stronger frame designed to hold parabolic mirrors that are easier and less expensive to build and install. The new heat collection element increases thermal efficiency by up to 30 percent over first generation CSP plants.

The Mojave Solar Project will avoid more than 350,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and is anticipated to generate enough electricity to power more than 54,000 homes. An estimated 80 percent of total costs, including both capital equipment and labor, are expected to be sourced in the U.S. MSP will purchase all of the receiver tubes from a facility in New Mexico, the parabolic trough mirrors from a new facility in Arizona and other key equipment from different suppliers in several states across the country. The project is supported by a power purchase agreement with PG&E, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, to sell the energy produced by MSP for a 25-year contract period.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) administers three separate programs: the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. The Title XVII loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, while the ATVM loan program supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.

To date, the Department has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling nearly $40 billion to support more than 40 clean energy projects across the United States, including several of the world’s largest solar generation facilities, three geothermal energy projects and the world’s largest wind farm.