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DOE Offers $1.45 Billion Loan Guarantee to Abengoa Solar

July 8, 2010

On July 3, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment to Abengoa Solar Inc. for a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to finance the construction and start-up of a concentrating solar power (CSP) generating facility in Solana, Arizona. Once operational, the plant will add 250 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the electrical grid using parabolic trough solar collectors and will feature the first molten salt thermal energy storage system in the United States.

The plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, will use mirrors to direct sunlight onto receiver tubes that will heat the molten salt fluid to more than 700°F. The system's heat will turn steam turbines and will be capable of storing six hours of thermal energy, which  will allow the plant to dispatch power during early morning and late evening utility loads.  The thermal storage will also enable the plant to continue operating during intermittent cloudy weather.

The Solana plant will supply clean electric power to approximately 70,000 homes through a long-term power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service Company. Abengoa Solar estimates the Solana project will employ approximately 1,600 workers during construction and will create more than 80 skilled permanent jobs during operation. Additionally, two assembly factories will be constructed on the Solana site, and as a result of Solana's need for more than 900,000 mirrors, a new mirror manufacturing facility will be sited just outside Phoenix in Surprise, Arizona.

Abengoa Solar is a global company based in Spain. Its U.S. headquarters are in Lakewood, Colorado, with other offices in Arizona and California.

President Obama made the loan announcement in his weekly address just before Independence Day. "After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America," he said. 

The Solana project will bring the total amount of CSP supported by DOE to nearly 650 MW. See press releases from DOE and Abengoa, the president's video announcement, the DOE Loan Guarantee Program Web site, and the Solar Energy Technologies Program Web site.

Source:  July 7, 2010 issue of EERE Network News, published by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.